Monday, August 24, 2009

Microsoft to take over Maharashtra's education future - Part 1

By Abhijit M

Is the Mumbai/Pune open source community doing anything about this? I
am sure, that with government resources involved, we can ask that not just Windows be taught, to the thousands of teachers Microsoft is training each year...

MS to build IT skills in Maha schools
BS Reporter / Mumbai?August 19, 2009, 0:17 IST

The government of Maharashtra today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft India to enhance information and communication technology adoption in schools and build job readiness skills of the future workforce in the state.

Under the agreement, Microsoft will over the next two years train 6,000 teachers, as well as 100,000 pre-service teachers. The MoU is an extension of an existing relationship between Microsoft and the state government, under which Microsoft India has set up information technology academies at Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad and trained over 92,000 teachers.

Additionally, the software giant will also help build last-mile capacity among educators. One educator from each cluster in the state will be required to undergo a 10-day training module in a setup. Microsoft will conduct over 200 sessions at the district level over the next two years for training 6,000 resources in as many clusters.

Regarding Maharashtra government's decision to provide training to school teachers in collaboration with Microsoft

By Rishikesh Y

In a shocking news we came to know that government of Maharashtra has decided to collaborate with Microsoft to train its school teachers. The Microsoft will be training the teachers for using technology in their teaching. It essentially means that Microsoft will be training teachers how to use its own products. This training will make teachers to prefer Microsoft products next time, even if other alternatives become available due to prior exposure. Once such trend is being set, Microsoft products will be installed preferably on all school computers. This will increase a lot of government spending by hundreds of crores in IT software. One such estimate by Gurumurthy K, director, IT for Change, is 238 crors. Individual spending, if no "piracy" is done then it will be in hundreds of crores. Such spending will benefit only monopolistic Microsoft. Such income and addiction to Microsoft products are the real aim such "philanthropic" training programme. Beside these the Microsoft is not going to spend on lodging, boarding, travelling and other such expenses, which would be borne by government bodies.

The program aims at improving "employability" of 11th and 12th standard students. In recession times where already graduated engineers are finding hard to find the jobs and retain current one, such employability talks are nothing more than joke. If at all such students will be employed then they will nothing more than computer operator level.

Another part of this programme is Live@Edu, which gives single user login to Microsoft offerings. Such offering hooks students and teachers to Microsfot forever. We call such addictive promotion as schwag-giving.

If government is serious about providing IT education it should adopt technology viz training programme rather company viz programme. This means that students should be taught about basics of document editing tools and not Microsoft Word. This is because OpenOffice Writer and other such software can do same and probably better than MS Office as well. So it is content and technology more important than software tools provided by vendors.
Also all this is happening when today "Free" (in sense of freedom) software are available for almost all usage, teaching and training needs. GNU Linux and GNU utilities are available which are free of cost as well. If government does spend little and one time in developing training module for such Free software then people (tax payer and individual) will save thousands of crores collectively. This will develop indigenous technocrats as the source and design would be available to each and every one involved. Whereas with Microsoft we are just consumer and not developer of "state-of-the-art" technology.

So we demand that government should scrap this MoU with Microsoft. The government should provide training and technology to teachers student so that it makes them capable and independent for using and developing software.

Ref :1. Teachers' training programme news

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