Govt helps students break the digital divide

Now, MHRD will be making low-cost computing devices available for students at Rs 1,500


Jasleen Kaur | July 22, 2010

Students will soon have access to a low cost computing device. HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday unveiled a low cost computing-cum-access device, the price of which is expected to be around 35$, around Rs 1500 per piece. On the launch of this device, Sibal said,"This is part of our national effort for taking forward the agenda of inclusive education."

The device, which is charged through solar panel, does not have a hard disc but supports the video web conferencing facility, multimedia content viewer, other computing capabilities, media player, Internet browsing and multimedia input output interface option. "The speed of this device might be slow but it has the basic technology that a student would require," Sibal added.

A number of teams have worked with the ministry on improving upon design parameters and customization guidance for Indian students. The ministry started its efforts by holding discussions on this concept with experts at IISc Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay. And later B.Tech and M.Tech students were guided to produce the mother board for such low cost device. Initial cost of the device came to 47 $ and substantially it was reduced to 35$.

Ministry aims to gradually drop down the price to $20 and ultimately to $10 a piece. "This is just the breakthrough. We want to further reduce the price to 10$ per computer," Sibal said.

With this low cost device ministry aims to reach to students of colleges and universities and to provide these institutions a host of choices of low cost access devices. The device is expected to be commercially available by 2011 and at subsidised cost for students and institutes. "Our priority is that it should reach to every learner, be it a student studying in a primary class or in an university," Sibal said.

Connectivity to universities and colleges has already started. Nearly 8500 colleges across the country have been connected. Also, under the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), nearly 500 web based and video courses are available and uploaded on “sakshat”, YouTube and NPTEL portals.




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