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Delegation meets Education Secretary of Maharashtra

A delegation of seven educationists and activists from Mumbai met the
Secretary, School Education, Government of Maharashtra, Shri Sanjay
Kumar, at the Mantralaya on 2nd September at  3pm. Their aim was to
express their critique of the proposed agreement  between the state
and a multinational corporation in the area of ICTs in education and
to offer an alternative based of Free and Open Source Software. The
attached representation (PDF) was submitted to him by the group, who
consisted of :

Nagarjuna G., Free Software Foundation, India
Padma Sarangapani, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Ravi Subramaniam, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR
J T de Souza GNU/Linux Users Group, Mumbai
Chandita Mukherjee, Comet Media Foundation
Sridhar Iyer, IIT Bombay and
Sahana Murthy, IIT Bombay.

During the meeting, the Secretary informed the delegation that the
State government is aware of the pitfalls of working with corporates
and is willing to consider alternatives approaches  to introducing
ICTs in education on a large scale, if any group proposes them. The
Govt, he said, will work with all interested parties and will be
inclusive in their approach.

When told that in the current Maharashtra standard 8 text book, for
example, there are brand names mentioned in the text and logos shown
in the illustrations, he said that their department does not interfere
with textbook content, since that is looked after by the experts of
the Maharastra Text Book Bureau.  When we suggested that it was the
Education Department's  role to set policy guidelines, such as not to
carry brand names, the Secretary agreed with this in in principle.

We suggested that we can help in
(i) designing a curriculum for students that focusses on broad
concepts from ICT that help develop thinking skills, as well as
specific usage skills,
(ii) writing books that can implement this curriculum, in a
vendor-neutral manner,
(iii) designing curriculum for teachers and
iv) implementing teacher training programmes

After listening to the delegation, the Secretary asked us to submit a
proposal to contribute to the effective dissemination of ICT skills
within the school system in Maharashtra . The team agreed  to do this
within two weeks and to subsequently explore possibilities of reaching
an MoU with the Government of Maharashtra. We will keep you posted as
the story develops.

--
Dr. Nagarjuna G.
Chairperson, Free Software Foundation of India,
Reader, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education,
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,
V.N. Purav Marg, Mankhurd. Mumbai India, 400088

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