The Ministry of Tribal Affairs collaborates with Microsoft to skill educators and students in next-generation technologies including Artificial Intelligence

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs collaborates with Microsoft to skill educators and students in next-generation technologies including Artificial Intelligence

With a vision to build an inclusive, skills-based economy, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MTA) today inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Microsoft to support the digital transformation of schools such as Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) and Ashram Schools, among others under the Ministry at an online event ‘Empowering Youth For Success’.

Against the backdrop of the New Education Policy 2020 that emphasizes the use of technology for improved learning, this partnership will train students in technologies such as artificial intelligence, coding and data science, empowering them to use technology in meaningful ways to build their future.

Speaking at the inaugural virtual event, Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri Arjun Munda said that our students need to get ready to compete at the global level. “This program will prove beneficial in terms of readiness, preparedness of our students at various international forums. Though these programs, our students would get the required skill set through digital transformation and this would begin a new chapter with AI and coding being a part of the curriculum,” he said.

Shri Munda also added that for the digital India Mission to be successful every segment of the society needs to be empowered and he hoped that this Microsoft program would be able to bridge the gap between the tribal students and others.

The initiative will also enable the professional development of educators, enabling them to use technology in classrooms. Microsoft will work closely with schools across states under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to accelerate digital transformation. These schools will be equipped with the technology, training and tools required to transform them into Microsoft Showcase Schools, which embody technological innovation in teaching, use productivity insights for decision making and create accessible and personalized learning experiences for every student.

Under this program in the first phase 250 EMRS schools have been adopted by Microsoft out of which 50 EMRS schools will be given intension training and 500 master trainers would be trained in the first phase.

Also present at the event, Smt. Renuka Singh Saruta, Minister of State for Tribal Affairs reiterated that that this is unique opportunity for the tribal students to get global standard education and to get a level playing field.

“This initiative can be a great help to the tribal students for maintaining continuity in their education in this lockdown period. What is great about the program is that not only the students, but 5000 teachers nominated by the ministry across these schools would be provided with professional training,” She added.

Teachers across states in India will be trained in a phased manner for using productivity technologies like Office 365 and AI applications in teaching, helping them deliver blended or remote learning experiences to students in a more personalized, productive and secure manner. Teacher trainings in Microsoft Teams will introduce them to the world of virtual collaboration and how teaching can be augmented with virtual field trips or remote sessions with experts. The program will also offer opportunities for teachers to earn professional e-badges and e-certificates from the Microsoft Education Centre.

Speaking about the partnership, Navtez Bal, Executive Director, Public Sector, Microsoft India, said “The past year in both policy and practice has shown us that the future of learning will be more personalized and driven by technology. Our partnership with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is a step to enable education equity, providing equal opportunity and access for the next generation of learners and educators from schools under the Ministry. We are deeply committed to the digital transformation of education in India and to support a community who will play a key role in shaping India’s next phase of growth.”

Anil Kumar Jha, Hon Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs stated that the transformational change in the new generation will happen through education and health. “This program will ensure that 73000 students will get chance to change their future, their environment, their village, and overall community. The active partnership by Microsoft will help in creating the talent pool that will be an asset to the country in the future,” He said.

He also said that this program should not be a one off but a continuous process through generations creating a repository of knowledge.

Dr. Navaljit Kapoor, Joint Secretary, MoTA stated that the collaboration between the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and Microsoft is a historic event. “Around 750 EMRS school under MoTA will be participating in this program benefitting 3.5 lakh students in the next 5 years,” He said.

Under the partnership, students from schools under the Ministry will be mentored on projects that involve AI applications for societal good and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students will also be trained and exposed to gamified environments on Minecraft to help build design thinking skills. To enable inclusion and access, Microsoft will make AI curriculum available to the schools and students in both English and Hindi.

The vote of thanks was delivered by A K Singh, Joint Secretary, MoTA.

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