After revolutionizing the world of personal computers, Microsoft is taking another big leap, albeit in a different way i.e. by revolutionizing the lives of lakhs of children in remote Indian villages, cities, and township through its flagship program Project Shiksha, in partnership with state governments. This innovative and highly laudable initiative, on the lines of similar programs such as Project Saksham, Project Jyoti, and Youth Spark programme among many, aims to uplift the standard of education in India through infusion of technology to flavor the staleness of primary education in India.
According to the Microsoft India Citizenship Report (2015-16), under this program, which was launched in 2003, it has already trained 7.7 lakh teachers across 12 states and also organizes visits to schools of the teachers trained under the project in order to study the teacher’s IT skills into practice.
One of the finest examples of its success stories is Raghavendra Rao from Andhra Pradesh, a teacher at Jawahar Navodaya School. Motivated by Project Shiksha, he was resolute to bring ICT (Information and Communication Technology) into everyday use in classrooms for rural children. Therefore, he acquainted himself with many benefactors and educators at the Innovative Teachers Regional Conference in Hanoi and the e-learning Technologies Symposium conducted by C-DAC (Center for Development of Advanced Computing) and started using e-learning tools such as Windows Live Movie Maker and MS-Powerpoint, which he learned with Project Shiksha, for informing students with the majesty of local flora and fauna into the classroom. This brainchild of Rao led to the founding of www.biology24×7.in, which further extended the scope of learning for the benefit of everyone. The website now contains a catena of material on biology including reference materials, question papers, and discussion ideas.
In a similar example, in Bihar, where the project was launched in 2008, 4000 teachers have been trained so far, benefitting 13 lakh students. In fact, according to Suneet Sethi, regional head of Microsoft India’s ‘Partner in Learning’, in Patna alone, 1200-odd teachers have been trained to benefit around 3.6 lakh students.
Thus, Raghavendra’s example is but a few of the monumental changes being observed as part of the PPP (Public Private Partnership) in states such as UP, Bihar, Gujrat, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu among few.
For a country, with an abysmal reputation in the field of human resource development, initiatives such as Project Shiksha are like a fresh breath of air to and most laudable attempt at ameliorating education. Apart from transforming education, Microsoft is also providing free cloud services to Indian startups.