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September 3, 2009

IGNOU all set to become the global hub of telecentre academy

IGNOU all set to become the global hub of telecentre academy

New Delhi :Indira Gandhi National Open University today hosted a two-day meeting of vice chancellors from universities of a consortium of 15 countries with a view to setting up skills development training centres and education in all village panchayats in the country and in rural settings globally. The countries which joined were USA, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Philippines, Uganda, Mozambique, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, and India. A global hub academy will be created and a consensus on it shape and action plan will be arrived at after the meeting. This will be announced on Tuesday at the Press Conference.

The meeting was convened by IGNOU to arrive at a consensus for a Letter of Interest (LoI) or an MoU to be signed by the members from the country in the consortium.

This meeting was a follow-up of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s declaration made last year for setting up a Skills Development ministry to stimulate collaboration and convergence among institutions which can develop skills among unskilled youths in India.

To the same goal, a Canada-based organisation, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which runs telecentre.org Academy globally in partnership with a number of universities around the world for development of the grassroots population of the concerned countries, came forward to join the Indian movement. The ongoing meeting will set up a Consensus for an action plan and creating a Global Hub.

A number of Indian private organisations which are already working in this field -- such as Shrei Sahaj e_Village (eastern India), Pay6 (in 18 states), Spanco (Maharashtra), Network for Information and Computer Technologies (MP), Infotech (Chhattisgarh, MP) etc. -- have been roped in the IDRC-sponsored telecentre-org Academy initiative to tie up with IGNOU to launch a Global Hub for grassroots learning processes.
The Meeting is an outcome which the Information Technology department (DIT) of the Government of India was mulling since 2002.

Addressing an erudite gathering of the vice chancellors and their representatives in the ranks of deputy vice-chancellors and rectors, DIT secretary Dr R Chandrashekhar said, “We are all set to roll out over 1,30,000 telecentres in panchayati areas in the country within the middle of 2010. Already about a lakh telecentres have been set up. The Government feels that the scheme has to be expanded to each panchayats of the country nationwide and also help those who will need it. Though in the beginning it looks like a cyber café in rural settings, where you can do everything a cyber café provides for, it will soon evolve into a learning centres for the rural women and youths who cannot afford to cover distance for formal education.”

Mr Chandrasekhar appreciated the role played by telecentre operators in fulfilling the Government’s commitment towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Currently the telecentres are handling three problems, language, lack of IT literacy and that of basic literacy. Dr Chadrashekhar suggested, the telecentres can be cleverly dovetailed into a social empowerment tool. “IDRC can put all techniques to assiduously work out on it.”

The telecentre.org Academy is a unique partnership program, steered by the telecentre.org, which is a global group promoting telecentres around the world. After the tripartite agreement signed, the Global Hub will assume a name. The hub will train over a million people around the world in information entrepreneurship, which will emerge as a new profession in developing nations.

The information entrepreneurs will staff over 500,000 telecentres around the world, half of which will emerge in India alone in the name of Bharat Nirman Common Service Centres (BN CSCs).

Speaking on the occasion IGNOU Vice Chancellor Professor VN Rajasekharan Pillai highlighted the Bharat Nirman Common Service Centres will deliver high quality government to citizen (G2P) services in rural areas. With a view to boosting public-private partnership (PPP) a bouquet of private players have been assigned responsibilities to carry out the scheme at rural settings. The services are being brought to the door-steps of the rural homes, at an affordable, flexible and democratised means. The national purpose to upscale the standard skills of the rural workforce will naturally be boosted by this effort.
Professor Pillai detailed what the global hub academy will carry out, “A global curriculum and course structure will be created to fulfil the learning needs of the telecentre operators around the world. A set of common standards which will underpin implementation of the global course will be agreed upon. Similarly, a process of certification and linear academic growth path for the learners also will be agreed. The Letter of Interest or the MoU whichever we will be creating will define an operational framework for the participating universities, the telecentre networks and the host university that will steer the work of the academy.”

According to IDRC official Dr Basheerhamad Shadrach, who also doubles up as an anchor of the global telecentre.org Academy, the move towards establishing a consortium of universities is to certify the telecentre knowledge workers for a diploma program in over 20 nations to begin with. Dr Shadrach highlighted the salient features of the Academy which includes a global course curriculum delivered in more than 10 languages tailored to individual learner in his/her learning needs.

By auditing the global hub courses, an unemployed youth in developing nation can easily find a job as a telecentre operator. The academy of the global hub shall continue to encourage the alumni of any course with options to continue his/her academic career path to the extent of even obtaining an MBA in social entrepreneurship.

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