Assam witnesses a silent IT revolution

By agencies   |   Friday, 25 March 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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MAJULI: Majuli, the largest riverside island in the world, situated in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam, is undergoing a silent revolution in information technology.

Students in one of the Government schools there can now handle the mouse and computer keyboard with aplomb. The school boasts of a sophisticated computer lab where children between 10 and 17 years of age learn their bits and bytes. Very soon, three more schools in this remote island of 1.5-lakh population will be equipped to bridge the digital divide, thanks to a joint initiative by the Assam Government and computer training firm NIIT.

At present, the 800 sq km island's only mode of communication with the outside world is a ferry that operates twice a day. Boats and ferries were used to transport PCs and gensets to Majuli. These instruments were later taken to the school on people's head, said an NIIT Spokesperson.

When the job was first assigned to NIIT in 2003 to make students of 140 schools in the State computer literate, it was not aware of all the tough challenges. Often, the language barrier - in many a school, students understand only Bodo, Assamese or Bengali - was easier to crack, than the physical barriers.

Arrangements were made to carry computers and other equipment on the back of elephants also. In view of the erratic power supply, generator sets were provided at all the schools, a State Government official said.

Now, in the second phase of the State's 'Computer Assisted Education Programme', NIIT will reach out to 200 more schools. The Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his Cabinet colleague Himanta Biswa Sarma, accompanied by the Union Communications and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran will flag off the second part of this ambitious project.

In the process of the computer literacy programme, students are also taught English, Science, Maths and Social Science through computers. Eventually, all 630 higher secondary schools in Assam will be covered under the Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Programme covering four lakh students, the official said.

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