Outsourcing of education programme in Karnataka fails

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Bangalore: State sponsored education programmes in Karnataka using the outsourcing-based model has not achieved its goal. According to a study conducted by Bangalore-based non-governmental organization IT for Change, the government's Mahiti Sindhu programme, which took computer education to 1,000 schools across the state, has largely been unsuccessful, reports The Hindu.

According to the study, the larger goal of establishing IT-enabled education in government schools has been abandoned. Further, the use of proprietary software has limited the scope of IT-enabled education in the schools. The programme, which outsourced the setting up and teaching process to private vendors, has not benefited the overall school system says the study.

Though Mahiti Sindhu has given way to the Central government's ICT@schools programme, the first and second phases of the latter only imitated Mahiti Sindhu, thus carrying forward the same practices. With the third phase of ICT@schools currently being finalized, it is critical that the government turn to a deeper and more sustainable model, said Gurumurthy Kasinathan, Co-author of the study, which is part of the organization's ongoing research on 'Information Societies for the South'.

Comparing the BOOT (Build, own, operate and transfer) model adopted by Karnataka's ICT@schools to the integrated approach of the Kerala Government's IT@schools revealed a study in contrasts. In Kerala, the accent was on developing systemic in-house capabilities anchored around the role of school teachers, said the report. High school teachers in Karnataka, unlike their counterparts in Kerala, were not trained to apply computer skills to regular lessons despite having computers in their schools.

The report also found that vendors, who designed content and process, were in the business of selling computer hardware/software or general computer training, and not equipped to teach education-specific tools. "The vendor-deputed trainers were poorly paid - salaries ranged between 2,500 to 4,000 a month - and thus contributed little in terms of quality or expertise to the job," Kasinathan added.

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