Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rajasthan to kick off free tutorials for rural engineering aspirants

The Rajasthan government is starting a free, online pre-engineering tutorial from May 15 for students in the state's remote rural areas who can't afford coaching institutes. The proposed 10-month programme is slated to be the country's largest, with over 7000 students from all over the state together preparing for entrance exams like IIT-JEE, AIEEE and PET through video conferencing.

Students will be required to attend centres in their respective panchayats and district councils. All the learning centres have been connected through satellite with the main hub --- Indira Gandhi Panchayatraj Sansthan in Jaipur --- where the faculty will deliver lectures in subjects like mathematics, chemistry and physics. The sessions will be spread across 120 classes, and students can clear their doubts online.

"Every year, thousands of students from Rajasthan clear engineering entrance tests. But there are very few from rural areas. This can be a game-changer for them," says R.K. Verma, Principal Secretary of state's Science & Technology Department, the nodal agency for this programme.

The government is spending Rs. 9 million in the first phase of this programme, said Verma, adding from next year, the sessions will begin from April 1. Students securing 50% marks in mathematics stream are eligible for this programme. The state government will conduct a feedback session every three months to improve the teaching methodology. "If things move in the right direction, more students from villages will be able to make it to engineering colleges," says R.P. Yadav, Vice-Chancellor, Rajasthan Technical University (RTU), which conducts engineering courses in the state.

The government-run coaching class, however, will not be a threat to the booming coaching business in Kota. While the government is targeting students from remote villages, Kota's coaching institutes attract aspirants from urban centres. Kota's coaching institutes together corner around 25% of the total IIT-JEE seats.

However, high fees and living costs deprive rural students of good coaching and guidance needed for cracking exams like the IIT-JEE. "It's a good initiative. If the state government approaches us for any support, we will be happy to offer it. Success, however, will depend on the quality of faculty and execution," says Career Point CMD and CEO Pramod Maheshwari.

Source: The Economic Times, May 10, 2011

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