December 2007

INDIA

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Soon, an interactive Indian portal on disability
In a pioneering initiative that will bring together non-governmental organisations, professionals, policy makers, students, parents, community workers and persons living with disabilities on a common platform, the federal Indian government would launch an interactive portal to provide all related information regarding different disability issues.

The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), a federal body dealing with rehabilitation of the disabled and Media Lab Asia, a unit of the Indian Department of Information Technology, are jointly developing the portal.  An online national disability register would be part of the portal. This will enable applicants to apply online and also view their status online. The disabled-friendly texts in audio, video and multimedia mode will be cataloged and stored in web format for easy download. A dedicated section will be available for information on professional personnel and students being trained as specialists to deal with disability related issues. Currently there are 30000 such professionals in the country and an estimated 5,000 persons register themselves for fresh training every year.

Canadian Appleby College set to launch e-Learning

The Appleby College, based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, recently visited India for a strategic partnership with Indian schools to launch its e-Learning programme.

The fee for the diploma will cost around one-fourth of the total amount being charged by the Appleby College in Canada.  The College will be offering scholarships to deserving and meritorious students. The e-Learning programme has already been launched in countries like Mexico, Korea and Botswana.

The school is a member of G20 – a consortium of the top 20 independent schools worldwide. Besides, it claims to be Canada's first e-School, with all students and faculty having Lenovo Tablet PCs.

India sends the most students to the US: report
The annual Open Doors report of the Institute of International Education- a US based agency has announced that India for  the sixth year in a row has sent the most number of students to the US.

The year 2006-07 saw a 10 per cent increase in the Indian students to the US, taking the numbers to 83,833, according to a new report on international educational exchange. China remained in second place, with an increase of eight per cent to 67,723 and South Korea, in third place, increased six percent to 62,392. India contributes one in seven (14.4 per cent) of the total of 582,984 international students who together contributed about $14.5 billion to the US economy. The US Department of Commerce considers US higher education as the country's fifth largest service sector export as these students bring money into the national economy and provide revenue to their host states for living expenses, health insurance, support for accompanying family members, and other miscellaneous items. Published with support from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Open Doors 2007 report noted that 61.5 per cent of all international students receive the majority of their funds from personal and family sources.

High fee may affect education access!
The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee on Financing of Higher and Technical Education has recommended that revenue generation through student fees beyond 20 per cent may seriously affect access to higher education.

According to information furnished by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the institutions of higher learning in the country have a variable fee structure which differs from institution to institution. The matter relating to fee structure was discussed by Vice Chancellors held on October, 2007 and the UGC proposes to set up an expert committee to look into various aspects of the fee related issue and arrive at a strategy whereby the fee for higher education is neither ridiculously low nor it poses a barrier in equitable access to higher education.

Reserve Bank launches children educational site
Reserve Bank of India has launched a financial education site RBI.org.in/FinancialEducation that aims to teach basics of banking, finance and central banking to children.

To explain complexities of banking, finance and central banking in a simple and interesting way, Reserve Bank of India has created two special characters Raju and Money Kumar. While Raju tries to learn all about banking, Money Kumar attempts to explain subjects dealt with by RBI, such as monetary policy, bank regulations and currency notes. The website uses comic books format to make the learning process easy and fun for children. The website also has films on security features of currency notes of different denominations and an educative film to persuade citizens to not to staple notes. The site also has games especially designed to familiarise school children with India's various currency notes. The site will soon be made available in Hindi as well as in 11 regional languages such as Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu, besides English.

No Indian varsity among world's top 200 universities
No Indian University, including the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, has figured among world's top 200 universities in The Times Higher – Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, while six Chinese universities have found place in the list.

Harvard University tops the league table followed by Cambridge and Oxford at second and third positions respectively. The top 10 universities are all either in the US or the Britain, a survey has found. Besides China, other Asian countries figuring in the list of world-class universities are Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. The IITs, which figured regularly in all the previous rankings, since The Times Higher – Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings which began three years ago, have fallen off the map this year partly because of a change in evaluation norms. For this year's survey, individual IITs were assessed, and not the IIT system as a whole. And none of the seven IITs was considered good enough to find a place among the top ranking world universities. However, IIT Delhi and IIT Mumbai find mention among the world's top 50 technology institutions, with the former at 37 and latter at 33 – both way behind China's Tsinghua University, placed at 16.

NDTV to launch education portal

NDTV Convergence is planning to launch a number of portals in different genres including lifestyle, Bollywood and education over the next six months. The company is also planning to launch a mobile portal NDTV Active and a Hindi news portal NDTV Khabar.

NDTV Convergence is also expanding its production team for the launch of these portals.

IIT education to go online
All seven IITs of the country are planning to offer lectures and course material at the very click of a mouse. The move comes in as a part of the INR110 crore Government project to help lift the poor standards of academic content in an estimated 1,500 engineering colleges across India. The project is under development since 2003.

The seven IITs along with the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore had earlier planned to provide engineering students the same education as they would have received in the campus. Much of the course material is similar to the core science and engineering curricula that is taught at the IITs. The union Human Resource Development Ministry has already invested INR20.5 crore in the completed phase I of the project.

The concept of making IIT education online was drawn from National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a project that was initially conceptualized by the faculty at IIT Madras.

Visualisation learning centres at IGNOU
Core Projects & Technologies Ltd has announced that coming together in a higher education project using space age technology developed by the NASA-sponsored Center of Higher Learning (CHL), the company has signed an MoU with the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) for setting up visualisation learning centres at all IGNOU centres in India.

The project will create education content using space age technology called Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE), developed by scientists of the CHL. Deployment of this technology in classrooms will greatly enhance the ability of students to understand complicated topics. It will also enable them to conduct innovative experiments leading to cutting edge research and development efforts.

Bharti Foundation school plans new courses
India based Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology and Management, a joint initiative of Bharti Foundation and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, is all set to launch a host of new programmes like internship, distance-learning, executive and post-doctoral programmes.
 
Started in 2000, the school has already instituted 10 seats for PhD in Telecom Systems Management and a Master of science (MS) research programme in Telecom Technology and Management. Most of these are likely to commence by the next academic session. The distance-learning will involve lectures delivered in a tele-studio in Bharti School and broadcast using Internet protocol (IP) or very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology to classrooms outside IIT-Delhi. 

Girls breaking caste barriers with English schooling: Study

As the processes of globalisation strikes deeper roots in India, girls are proving to be quicker learners than boys. An extensive study published in The American Economic Review , shows that a traditional institution like caste (jati) has been impacted by schooling, career and marriage choices of boys and girls in the new economy.

Its study areas are the dynamic urban context of Mumbai's Dadar for 1980-2001, and families of the metro's 'labour market'. These form its fairly large sample size of 4,945, with upper-castes accounting for 17.5%. The response to the inquiries reveals that the premium on an English language education has gone up steeply. For boys it went up from 15% in 1980-90 to 24% in 1990-2000. But it really shot up for girls from near zero to 27% in the same period.  

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