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October 6, 2001
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Microsoft, Intel out of changed IT@School project?

Sanu George in Thiruvananthapuram

Software giants Microsoft and Intel might not find a place in Kerala's revamped IT@School programme to ensure 100 per cent computer literacy among students.

The previous education minister, P J Joseph, had launched his pet IT@School programme about a year ago. He had envisaged a major role for the information technology heavyweights Microsoft and Intel in enabling around six million school children to be computer literate by 2010.

But the new project report submitted by the education department to the government is silent on the role of Microsoft and Intel.

"What we have envisaged is that there would be a standard textbook for computers in all the schools and we are soon conducting a workshop to decide what the contents should be," education secretary K K Vijaykumar said.

"Apart from this we are also trying to see that some portion of each subject would be learnt through the computers," said Vijaykumar.

Vijaykumar said he was not aware of what the previous Left Democratic Front had envisaged.

"What we have submitted is only a draft report and when the final report comes out there would be several agencies involved in the implementation," he said.

Chief Minister A K Antony said a high-level committee has been set up under his chairmanship to see that this project comes through.

"Several IT companies' help would be sought to ensure the smooth working of this project and help has also been assured by non-resident groups and organisations abroad. We expect funds from agencies like the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme," Antony said.

The new government also plans a bigger role for the IT Mission, the nodal agency in the government for implementing IT in the state. Mission chief Rajiv Vasudevan said initial discussions had indicated that there would be a close partnership between the education ministry and the IT Mission.

Vasudevan, who is also CEO of Technopark, felt elaborate discussions were required before finalising the computer curriculum for school students. He noted that while some feel the curriculum should merely concentrate on creating awareness about computers, another section feels it should include subjects like programming.

The Antony government is determined to introduce the curriculum for senior school students in the coming academic year and each school would be given 10 computers to start with. The government also has plans to make these computers available to the public after school hours.

Indo-Asian News Service
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