April 2005

Shiksha India

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Background of Shiksha India
Shiksha India, a non-profit organisation supported by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was formed with the prime intent to bridge the digital divide in India. The aim was to use technology to improve the quality of education and promote computer literacy in India. Shiksha India strived to increase the earning capacity, reduce information arbitrage in rural India and promote entrepreneurship. Shiksha India provided a platform for industry, academia and government to work together to equip the schools with the 5 Cs: Computers, Connectivity, Coaching (Teachers' Training), Content and models of Commercial sustainability. After many interactions with various education systems , Shiksha India realised that the need existed more for Content and so started focusing on developing good quality content.

Shiksha India set up a Content Committee comprising eminent educationists and those in the field of technology to steer the process of Content Development according to its vision. It followed an exhaustive vendor selection process. Several vendors made presentations to the committee and the short-listed ones were asked to undertake a study and come out with a comprehensive and a detailed document which would reflect their comprehension of the scope of the project, the vision of Shiksha India and an entire strategy for Content, its deployment, phased introduction, upgradability, technical issues, hardware requirements etc. It has made MOU with APF (Azim Premji Foundation) and with Care 'N' Cure , a charitable organisation working on ICT for slow learners

The inspiration behind Shiksha India was 'Educar', a digital divide project in Argentina. 'Educar' was Argentina's national, educational Internet portal comprising of high quality interactive educational contents, covering all subjects in every one of Argentina's regional curricula. The project also aimed at increasing the Internet penetration in Argentina by offering web-based educational platform. Shiksha collaborated with the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) in CLASS (Computer Literacy & Studies in Schools) scheme. This scheme funded 19 states for their respective IT educational initiatives. Shiksha was on the monitoring and evaluation group of the CLASS. The Vidya Vahini project of the Ministry of Information Technology gave Shiksha a platform to deliver education content to government schools. Shiksha developed the educational portal www.shiksha.ernet.in, and produced 30 Modules in the initial phase of content development.

The projects on education
Shiksha aims at bridging the digital divide by providing good quality educational material (academic content) and by introducing various technology tools in various underserved schools. The following Shiksha content is available in Hindi and English.

The primary objective of Shiksha is to provide various technology tools to the schools and equip children with variety of skills – academic as well as life-long. It also aims to provide a platform for various stakeholders in the education setting to share and collaborate for meaningful issues concerning the child's education. The beneficiaries are the underserved schools – both in rural and urban setting. The deployments/associations of Shiksha are 160 Navodaya Vidyalaya Sangathan (NVS) schools, spread across different Indian states/regions, pilots in Jammu and Kashmir , Punjab and Andhra Pradesh and around 20-25 schools in Delhi.

Technology tools for primary education
MDG2 is “Achieve universal primary education” and Shiksha plans to achieve this by providing tools (through itself or other partners). The ultimate aim of it is imparting and improving the basic education. Shiksha plans to work with other like-minded organisations and reach out to the needy/underserved in the rural areas, villages, etc. ICT will play an important role in the project as the various tools that Shiksha has developed or plans to develop would be technology driven – Academic Software in CD form, Education Portal, etc. Boston Consulting Group conducted a pilot study on Shiksha content in 3 schools in Delhi. The report showed that there was a visible lift in students' performance on using Shiksha contents.

In future, Shiksha India will be engaged in promoting/furthering technology-aided learning in schools through providing content and conducting teachers' training on Effective Technology Integration. It will provide a web-based platform for promoting creative learning among children and will facilitate the building of a conclave of like minded institutions, individuals, etc. to share resources to benefit the needy. Shiksha's contents for translation in regional languages will be made available to institutes/organisations working for the benefit of underserved children.

For further details: Narinder Bhatia, Shiksha India
shikshaindia@ciionline.org, narinder.bhatia@ciionline.org

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