The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) status may be some distance away for Jadavpur University (JU), but the state-aided address has found pride of place in a premier league of academic institutions picked for a mega project.
JU, along with the seven IITs and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), will be part of Technology Mission in Education — a project undertaken by the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) to reach standardised content to students across the country.
“It is, indeed, a rare achievement. We have proved once again that our standard is on a par with the country’s best engineering and science institutions like the IITs and IISc,” said Kalyan Kumar Dutta, director, JU School of Education Technology.
“We are the only state-aided university to be appointed by the MHRD to work with the IITs and IISc; it’s a matter of pride for us,” he added.
The project aims at creating national-level resource content covering all levels of education, from primary to postgraduate levels and even technical education.
The MHRD has already approved a Rs 50-crore grant to the university to perform its role — standardisation and quality assurance aspect of the e-learning course content, to be developed by the research team engaged in the project.
“Different institutes have been given different areas to work on… We have expertise in running e-courses and that’s why we have been asked to ensure standardisation of the content,” explained Dutta.
Initially, JU was not part of the elite team and the MHRD had engaged only the seven IITs and IISc, Bangalore.
Later, the decision was amended and other institutes were roped in. Apart from JU, the other late entrants in the project are Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the IIT-Benaras Hindu University.
The mandate to JU also includes development of devices — other than computers or laptops — to make the content available to students across the country.
“As the ultimate goal is to reach out to students, we have been asked to keep the cost of such devices in mind and suggest systems which even people from the economically-weaker sections can afford to access the content,” said Dutta.
While IIT Kharagpur will look into the pedagogy of learning, IIT Delhi will develop content on animation and IGNOU will focus on non-formal education.
As the government wants the content to be relevant to the needs of the changing times, the institutes must regularly update the content.
“The MHRD wants the first set of courses to be up by the end of 2007. We have already worked out an action plan and prepared a team, pulling in resources from various departments,” summed up Dutta, confident about sticking to the schedule.