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Tech Centres to Boost Digital Literacy and Opportunities in Rural Tamil Nadu, India

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) Pravartak Technologies Foundation has partnered with an education provider to bring computer science literacy to students at government schools in the remote, rural areas of Tamil Nadu. The partners successfully set up two Rural Technology Centres earlier this week and plan to establish more centres this year.

The 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 will teach basic digital literacy and the basics of programming. The IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation will provide the project with financial and technical support. Students from government schools in Classes 9 to 12 will learn about advanced technologies like drones, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), animation, webpage design, and hardware-based programming.

According to a statement by IIT-Madras, 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 the knowledge of technology and its benefits to rural areas.

The IIT-Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation Director V. Kamakoti noted that the spread of computer science literacy to rural areas and tapping the potential of the government school students is one of the Institute’s priorities. IIT-Madras is committed to working towards providing access to quality education and technology to students belonging to rural areas of the country. The setting up of these two rural technology centres marks the beginning of the journey, he commented.

A representative from the education provider stated that the digital tools are so easy to use that the middle school students have mastered them in a few weeks and have shown tremendous enthusiasm in learning. The project 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. Most children do not get any opportunity to learn computer science and other technologies. Even if they do it is taught without any hands-on experience with computers; the technology centres aim to remedy this.

Last month, IIT-Madras announced it would offer free Python and AI upskilling courses to more than one million socially and economically disadvantaged youngsters in India. IIT-Madras and an Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-Ahmedabad)-incubated start-up, GUVI, partnered with the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to develop the courses. The skills included in this initiative focus on face recognition technology that any beginner can master, according to officials. As OpenGov Asia reported, the courses will be taught in various vernacular languages including English, Tamil, Hindi, and Telugu, among others. Free access to the courses will be available through a registration process enabled on GUVI’s official website. Learners can also opt to avail an IIT-Madras certificate on the GUVI Python programming course by taking an assessment and paying a nominal fee to IIT-Madras.

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