Education gets more mobile, takes cellphone route

Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University starts mobile phone education project for rural areas.

In a novel initiative, the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) is using mobile phones to take education to the doorstep of masses in rural areas where internet penetration is usually poor.

The project, said to be the first of its kind in India, was launched as a pilot 10 days ago, and will shortly be launched officially after fine-tuning its features.

"Reasons like schools being far off and work commitments rob rural students of mainstream education. Last year we launched an internet project to educate the rural masses. But internet penetration is not that good in rural India. However, mobile phone penetration is good and even the remotest of villages have mobile networks. That is why we thought of this project," said Anuradha Deshmukh, Director, Centre for Collaborations and Special Initiatives, YCMOU.

"Apparently this is the first initiative of its kind by any university in India," Anuradha added.

All a student has to do is call toll free number 52422715. The pre-recorded instructions will guide the student to the lecture he or she wants to hear. "The best part is, the lectures will be interactive. As of now, each lecture lasts an hour," said Deshmukh.

"Students can ask questions after the session and the teacher will answer the queries," said Deshmukh adding the project will revolutionise rural education.

Self-learning techniques are being taught right now. "We have 10 sessions on self-learning techniques planned. The lecture will be conducted in Marathi, Hindi and English in a day with a gap of half an hour. If a student misses the interactive session of the lecture, he or she can call the toll free number and get it from the archives," said Deshmukh. The student will have to pay Re 1 a day for the services no matter how many times the toll free number is called up. As of now, only Reliance mobile users can access this service, but it will be extended to other networks, added Deshmukh.

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