HRD Ministry Angles For Vidya Vahini Project

New Delhi: | Updated: Jul 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
After making a bid to acquire DOEACC (formerly the Department of Electronics Accreditation of Computer Courses society) from the stable of department of information technology (DIT), the ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is now planning to hijack the Rs 6,000 crore Vidya Vahini project currently being implemented by DIT. The project was launched by the Prime Minister early last month.

Government sources said that MHRD recently wrote a letter to DIT asking it to hand over the project as it involves taking computer education to primary government schools across the country. Although DIT has not responded to MHRDs letter as yet, the sources said that the project cannot be transferred as it would involve setting up technology infrastructure (computers, software, networks) and creating relevant content.

This is the second time a conflict is brewing between MHRD and DIT over the control of DITs computer education related projects. Recently, MHRD has also demanded that DOEACC, an autonomous society under DIT control, should be handed over to MHRD (as reported in eFE on June 5, 2003). DOEACC is engaged in offering non-formal computer education through its accredited private institutions for courses at four levels (O,A,B and C). The move to transfer DOEACC was strongly opposed by DIT in a written reply to MHRD and the sources said that no decision had been taken yet.

DIT insiders say that MHRD was also eyeing the controversial Media Lab Asia project of DIT on the pretext that most of the research was being done in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), which are under the control of MHRD. However, it could not succeed in its bid and had to be satisfied with some representation in the governing council of the restructured Media Lab Asia.

The Vidya Vahini project is considered one of the few high-visibility national level projects being executed by DIT. The project aims to take computer education to 60,000 schools across the country in a matter of three years. The pilot, which is near completion, is being currently being executed in the constituencies of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (Lucknow) and deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani (Gandhi-nagar) apart from the constituencies of foreign minister Yashwant Sinha (Hazaribagh) and HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi (Allahabad) among seven districts.

Under the project, each of the schools would be provided with a computer lab. The computer lab will also be equipped with Internet, Intranet and television to facilitate video-conferencing, Web-broadcasting and e-learning.