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With an aim to providing education opportunities to all, the IITs, IIMs and central universities will soon offer free online courses through a web platform to be launched by the HRD ministry on September 25, the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
In the first phase, seven institutes - three IITs at Bombay, Chennai and Guwahati and four central universities (Delhi, Punjab, Manipur and Banaras Hindu University) - will offer courses in engineering, social sciences, agriculture, energy, management and basic sciences. Later, more institutes will get on the online platform, which would become a full-fledged Massive Online Open Course System (MOOCS) for India.
HRD minister Smriti Irani told Hindustan Times that the programme, dubbed SWAYAM (study webs of active-learning for young aspiring minds), is designed to enable any Indian, regardless of background or location, to access the best education. The MOOCS course will be free of cost to learners but if a learner requires a verified certificate, a small fee will be charged.
The ministry will also launch a slew of educational reforms including setting up of a national academic depository for central digitisation of awards, degrees and mark sheets, national e-library, quality enhancement programme for higher education teachers and 'know your college portals' to help students choose the right courses and the best institutions.
Irani said while the government is open to private participation in education, the motive should not be profit. "I have had conversations with Wipro chairman Azim Premji and Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry on the issue and believe in what Premji says that India should strive to build the brands of its public educational institutions," she said.
Concerned at the 50% drop-out rate in grade eight among tribal girls, Irani recently told the CBSE chairman to identify 1,400 underprivileged children who had scored above 85% in Class X and ensure them help so that they could continue their studies.
The 'know your college' portal is aimed to provide information to prospective students in about 10,500 colleges that conduct 14,000 programmes and 17,000 levels in technical education.