With a population of over 31 million, the Indian state of Kerala — home to the IT@school initiative — has more people than many countries! IT@school, which provides ICT-enabled education to 1.6 million students per year in the state, is considered by some to be the largest educational program of its kind utilizing primarily free and open source software, thereby presenting a whole new model.
According to the official website IT@School endeavors to enhance the intellectual productivity of teacher and the curricular comprehension of students. The work of the project saw 4 million students and 0.2 million teachers empowered in ICT through a network of dedicated 200 Master Trainers and 5600 IT Co-coordinators. IT@School is the nodal agency for implementing EDUSAT (first Indian satellite exclusively serving the education sector) network and runs an exclusive channel for education called ‘ViCTERS’ (Virtual Classroom Technology on EDUSAT for Rural Schools).
The project has now associated with BSNL to provide Internet broad band connectivity to all high schools in Kerala. The success of the Project can be visualized by the conduct IT practical examination in free software for about 4 million students, first of this kind in the world with so much vast resourceful deployment of free software. The efforts of Project saw deployment of adequate IT infrastructure to all schools including computers and other accessories. Single largest simultaneous deployment of FOSS based ICT education in the world.
The project also focuses on capacity building by providing hardware and software training to teachers along with special programs to teach them the use of ICTs in education. Infrastructure up gradation is also an essential part of the project along with several E-governance initiatives. So far the project has supplied 40,000 computers to schools along with laptops, printers, scanners and generators. A recent news report also suggests that the project will provide free digital libraries to schools in Kerala soon.
The IT@School Project, of Kerala’s General Education Department has joined hands with chip giant Intel, to deploy a dual language version of the Skoool Learning and Teaching Technologies website. The platform is expected to benefit teachers and students (and parents!) in the state by providing attractive educational packages in school level Mathematics and Science, as a free Internet resource.
A snapshot of the impact of project is seen in this video and an article here. IT@School Project, through its various initiatives, has enabled the educational system to make a paradigm shift to ICT enabled education from the conventional IT education. Michael Trucano the senior ICT and Education Policy specialist at World Bank has included this project in his list of ICT initiatives in his blogpost titled ICT & Education: Eleven Countries to Watch — and Learn From.