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Prez launches three digital initiatives in education sector

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday launched two programmes to take education to the remotest corners of the country with the help of technology.
Mukherjee also launched a 'National Academic Depository' where verified educational records would be digitally stored by universities or a board to counter forgery.
The programmes Swayam and Swayam Prabha -- for making education more accessible -- and the depository were conceived and executed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Under Swayam, courses would be offered through digital classrooms with online study material available free of cost in videos.
Students who want certification will have to be registered and then offered a certificate on the completion of the course for a nominal fee, the Swayam website states.
They would have the opportunity to raise queries which would be answered in real time, Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said.
Students would be assessed through proctored examination and the marks/grades secured in this exam would be transferred to their academic record, according to the website.
Swayam Prabha would tap into the potential of Direct to Home Service wherein a person can install a dish antenna for about Rs 1,500 and have access to 32 digital educational channels run by the HRD Ministry.
Every day, there would be new content for at least four hours which would be repeated five times in a day, allowing students to choose the time of their convenience, Additional Secretary in UGC Pankaj Mittal said.
The course content would cover almost every aspect of education in various fields from class nine and will include preparatory courses for institutes such as the IITs.
Speaking on the occasion, Mukherjee said he had always emphasised on the "quality" of teaching and learning process in higher educational institutions.
He said mere physical expansion might provide access but without physical infrastructure and quality teachers, "the talent which is hidden in the young minds would not get the opportunity to blossom".
The president also said there were huge differences in the quality of education in urban and rural areas, between the states and in educational institutions within a state.
Underlining the need for making quality study material available in regional languages, he said pupils studying in regional mediums in schools found it difficult when material for higher education was in an alien language.
In his address, Javadekar highlighted the importance of teachers as the function was organised on "Guru Purnima".
Thanking the president for gracing the occasion, Javadekar said Mukherjee, who started his career as a teacher, had an unblemished public life for the last 48 years.
As a mark of respect on Guru Purnima he presented Mukherjee with a gift, which included a "slate" -- a traditional writing tablet.
Javdekar said that speeches made by the president during convocations of various universities would be compiled in various languages and distributed in the varsities.
Compilation of Pranab's convocation addresses soon: Javadekar
Convocation addresses delivered by President Pranab Mukherjee will be compiled and published by the HRD ministry in a 'guru dakshina' to him, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday.
Felicitating Mukherjee, who was a teacher before plunging into politics in 1969, on the occasion of 'Guru Purnima', Javadekar said his life was an "exemplary" record of calibre, capacity and conduct.
He said Mukherjee represented all the teachers in the country.
"By felicitating Mukherjee, we are honouring all the teachers of this country," the human resource development minister said.
At the inauguration of three digital initiatives in the education sector -- Swayam, Swayam Prabha and National Academic Depository on Sunday, Javadekar presented a small bag to Mukherjee containing a slate and stationery.
"Since I called him a teacher, there will be 'guru dakshina' (homage to a guru) as well. We will publish compilation of his convocation addresses to various universities so that students can enlighten themselves from his valuable observations," he said.
Swayam aims at taking the best teaching-learning resources to all. Under Swayam Prabha, the government plans to telecast high-quality educational programmes through 32 DTH channels.
The National Academic Depository will facilitate online verification of certificates.
Javadekar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi too was a "great political teacher".
"We learn from him everyday. How to think out of the box, we learn from him. Round the clock, he keeps thinking about the development of the country, 'antyodaya'...," he said.
Javadekar said the government would come up with integrated B.Ed courses so that students were able to decide after Class 12 on becoming teachers. They can take such integrated courses with graduation in a subject of their choice.
He said the government would ensure that teaching profession was not seen as the last career choice of the youths.
Javadekar said education expanded in the country in the past 70 years through the efforts of various governments.
"The British did not want it. But we have done it. Now using digital technology, it needs to be taken further," he said.
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