The spread of technology, telecom penetration and Internet has offered an opportunity to bridge the divide in education in terms of access and quality which must be seized, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday. Mukherjee was speaking at the inauguration of three digital initiatives in the education sector - 'Swayam', 'Swayam Prabha' and National Academic Depository by ministry of human resource development. "Digital technology enables good teachers to directly teach large number of students who are not physically present in classes. ICT solutions offer an interactive learning experience through which students in remote parts of the country can benefit from lectures of the top teachers," he said. Swayam and Swayam Prabha are digital classrooms the contents of which can be accessed either through Internet or direct-to-home service respectively. National Academic Depository will have education certificates of every student in digital form which will ease the process of verification and also do away with the chances of forgery. Through Swayam, courses will be offered through digital classrooms with study material available online in videos.
It will be available free of cost, however students wanting certifications shall be registered, shall be offered a certificate on successful completion of the course, with a small fee, the Swayam website states. The student will have opportunity to ask questions which will be answered in real time. Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has also prepared a series of lectures on the Indian economy for Swayam and Swayam Prabha. The students will be assessed through proctored examination and the marks and grades secured in this exam could be transferred to the academic record of the students, according to the website. Swayam Prabha will tap into the potential of Direct- to-Home Service wherein a person can install the dish antenna for about Rs 1,500 and have access to 32 digital educational channels run by the HRD ministry. Everyday, there will be new content for at least four hours which would be repeated five more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience, Additional Secretary in UGC Pankaj Mittal said. The course content will cover almost every aspect of education in various fields from class nine onwards and preparatory courses for institutes like IITs. "The quality of teaching and learning process is the heart of higher education. We have seen huge difference in the quality of attainment levels in higher education between the urban and rural areas, between the states and between institutions within a state," he said. Mukherjee said there are large numbers of students who study in vernacular languages whereas most of the knowledge is still in English. "I call upon you all - being the leaders of the higher education system - to make concerted efforts to bridge this gap," he said.