To the future with hope: a government scheme that helps bridge the technology gap

To the future with hope: a government scheme that helps bridge the technology gap

For Vaishnavi Saini and Arti Mishra, students at the state-run Polytechnic Institute, learning Python, an advanced programming language, was not in sight. They do not have regular access to laptops or desktop computers, nor can they bring up the idea of ​​signing up for a course that might entail additional expenses for their families.

But the Ministry of Education’s project, led by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and aimed at helping students from socio-economically disadvantaged communities enroll in courses taught by educational technology companies, has given them a glimmer of hope.

“For now, we will make use of the institute’s computer lab,” said Vaishnavi, one of the 12.15 thousand students for whom the government plans to distribute free vouchers for a range of courses offered by educational technology companies under the National Education for Technology Alliance. Initiative (NEAT).

The NEAT initiative is taking shape at a time when the government has announced plans to introduce a policy to regulate the education technology sector to prevent cases of “exploitation”.

NEAT Chief Coordination Officer Buddha Chandrashekhar said that out of the total enrollments that companies receive through the portal, they are expected to offer at least 25 per cent additional seats to students belonging to the SC/ST/OBC and EWS communities, with the limit The maximum annual family income is fixed at Rs 8 lakh.

“Based on this, a bank of 12.15 thousand free coupons has been created, which is now distributed to the beneficiaries,” he said. “AICTE-accredited public colleges across the country in December were asked to recommend names.”

“The final list of beneficiaries was selected using an automated tool with caste, income, gender and age as candidates, with around 37 lakh applications received. Women were given preference over men,” Chandrashekhar said.

A government breakdown shows that out of the total, 4.12 lakh free coupons are distributed among Uttar Pradesh students, followed by 2.23 lakh in Tamil Nadu, 1.38 lakh in Maharashtra, and 1.21 lakh in Andhra Pradesh.

Aarti, an office administration student who comes from Mirzapur district in UP and belongs to General (EWS) class, said: “Our college informed us about NEAT on January 2. After that, we applied for three courses of our preference. On January 6, I knew I was selected. The prospect of learning Python, which was one of my favourites, is exciting.”

Sneha P, a second year engineering student at Coimbatore College, is also among the candidates shortlisted under the scheme. “I chose Python as well because I am interested in pursuing web development,” said Sneha, who has never registered with any education technology platform before.

Vaishnavi, 22, who is pursuing a diploma in electrical engineering, said that while they had been informed of the selection, the course had not yet begun. “I eventually aim to break JEE-Mains and pursue engineering, so it would be great if I could complete a Python course as well, which I didn’t think was possible,” said Vaishnavi, who is from the OBC community.

Vaishnavi comes from Kanpur, AB, where her father is a musician in Ram Katas, and her mother is a housewife.

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