The next time you see people rushing towards a railway station, many of them may not be catching a train. They could be distance-learning students unwilling to bunk classes.
In association with the government-owned Railtel Corporation of India Ltd, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has decided to set up study centres at 3,000 railway stations.
IGNOU will utilise Railtel’s high-speed optical fibre cable (OFC) network to provide educational content. At these virtual colleges, students will interact with teachers through the university’s distance learning modules and online tests.
“We had a meeting with Railtel where both IGNOU and Railtel decided to go ahead with the project,” said Professor V N Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor, IGNOU. “Hopefully by June 2009, our study centres will be ready at many railway stations.”
The idea is to take IGNOU to the interiors of the country. “We are looking at setting up study centres at railway stations in rural areas, apart from tier II and tier III cities.”
Railtel, which has laid about 30,000 km of OFC network, is equally enthusiastic. “We have offered land, bandwidth and data centres to IGNOU,” said Railtel managing director SK Vasistha.
According to Railtel general manager (marketing) Anshul Gupta, the company wants to set up study centres at 3,000 railway stations where they have connectivity.