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New Initiatives to Digitally Upskill Youth in Northeast India

In one of the moves to upskill the youth in northeast India, the Digital India Startup Hub, through the Software Technology Parks of India, will set up India’s first Centre of Excellence in Online Gaming. It will be established in Shillong in March.

According to the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the centre will catalyse start-ups and entrepreneurs from the entire northeast region to build the next-gen online gaming ecosystem. He said the Prime Minister believes the next wave of start-ups and entrepreneurs will come from Shillong, Kohima, and other parts of the northeast. MeitY recently circulated Draft amendments to the IT Rules 2021 in relation to online gaming for public consultation.

Chandrasekhar highlighted the importance of digital skills in the post-pandemic scenario, as the rate of the digitalisation of products, services, and devices is rapidly increasing across the globe. He said that the government is keen on imparting digital skills to the youth in the northeast region to enable them to have opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship in the quickly-expanding digital economy.

The Minister announced another initiative, under which MeitY will set up a state-of-the-art facility through the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT). It will provide training in cutting-edge digital skills in Shillong. A 10-acre campus for the facility will soon be ready, which will cater to the skilling requirement of youth in the region.

Furthermore, the government is re-launching Skill India through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 (PMKVY 4.0). It will train around 50,000 youth in Meghalaya in future-ready skills with industry-backed job opportunities. Chandrasekhar claimed that the Prime Minister is building a “New India with re-imagined ambitions and aspirations for the young Indians”. As far as other states in the northeast region are concerned, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship under PMKVY4.0 has set a target to skill around 60,000 youth in Tripura and 35,000 in Nagaland across a spectrum of approved courses.

Similar initiatives are being carried out in south India. Last February, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) Pravartak Technologies Foundation partnered with an education provider to bring computer science literacy to students at government schools in the remote, rural areas of Tamil Nadu.

Two Rural Technology Centres were inaugurated in the Kanakamma Chathram and Seethanjeri villages of Tiruvallur district, around 60km from Chennai. After assessing the students, the centres teach basic digital literacy and the basics of programming. The IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation provided financial and technical support. Students from government schools in Classes 9 to 12 learn about advanced technologies like drones, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), animation, webpage design, and hardware-based programming.

As OpenGov Asia reported, some of the objectives of the project are to encourage the use of new technology, allow children to experience new technologies under the guidance of teachers, and develop students’ computational thinking. It aims to foster design thinking skills and provide students with a chance to express their creativity through interesting projects. Overall, the target is to spread information and knowledge about technology and its benefits to rural areas. IIT-Madras has opened the centres close to higher secondary schools so that the students will be able to attend courses in the centres in the evening after their school hours.

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