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IGNOU, Govt to run special 'Gyan Vigyan Mail'

24 July, 2011

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will flag off its ambitious project of Rs. 20.7 crores in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to run a university special train called the ‘Gyan Vigyan Mail’ (GVM) all over the country similar to Rajdhani Express from October 2, 2011, announced Vice-Chancellor Prof. V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai.

GVM will be custom built, used for mobile exhibitions to exhibit IGNOU’s courses and information. It will be a 16 compartment train where 10 bogies will be utilised for IGNOU knowledge exhibits with more than 300 such panels. The space will be utilised by disseminating information through 20 LCDs with DVDs, a mobile planetarium, space for VSAT terminal on train and high speed internet.

The principal objective of the GVM is to create knowledge and awareness among people in the country about science, various knowledge domains including Indian indigenous knowledge systems and inculcate scientific temper.

Moreover, through the GVM, IGNOU in collaboration with DST (GOI) would endeavor to meet challenges like high percentage of ‘drop-outs’ at different levels besides addressing the low level of Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education with an emphasis on employment opportunities by reaching out to students across India using the massive network of Indian Railways.

The proposed GVM would focus on college students and Indian youth in the age group of 18 to 23 and the thematic focus would encompass all knowledge domains including science and indigenous Indian knowledge systems among others.

“The GVM, an exhibition cum mobile classroom-cum exploratory-cum-extension facility, will travel from town to town on the Broad Gauge (BG) network of Indian Railway on a contiguous pre-defined route. It will have interesting activities including quizzes, puzzles, audio-visual programs, CDs posters handouts, manuals, work-books, requisite software, etc. It will be self-contained in terms of trained manpower, exhibits, materials for distribution, consumables, computers, audio-video aids, power back-up, and so on. The mobile unit will have at least 36 Educators/Communicators who will travel with it to conduct sessions on-board, on platforms and in schools and colleges in the vicinity of the respective I R stations,” said Prof. Avadhesh Kumar Singh, Dircetor, School of Translation Studies and Training, IGNOU. (Mobile no: 9811216724)

The operational and administrative activities of IGNOU include new exhibits with contents, teaching materials and give-away with the help of 40 to 50 local volunteers at each station, preparation of the itinerary, contents, publicity materials, coordination with the IGNOU Regional Centres, State Open and conventional universities and institutions of higher education and media.

The GVM project will be for a period of one year, effectively for about 8 months. It will be the first of its kind knowledge project by a University in the world. It would have of participation of students from conventional universities, colleges, State Open Universities, and youth and common people from different parts of the country. It is expected that its direct beneficiaries may be about 5,00,000 youth. At each location, everyday abut 2000-2500 students and teachers will directly participate in activitiesduring its 3-4 days halt. Thus, assuming 250 days of operation at about 65 to 70 halts during the period, about 5000,000 youth would be able to participate in the project. However, the results will be determined by the number and demographical density around locations covered and by interest of learning and teaching communities in the given region.

Through publicity and dissemination of information about the GVM, the indirect impact of the project would be in terms of creating knowledge awareness and scientific temper in the area of the GVM movement.

It is expected that the project GVM would become a popular medium of education. On the basis of the experience in the first year, the GVM may be extended subsequently after the necessary maintenance and modifications.

Both NCSTC and IGNOU can offset the expenditure involved from their respective annual budgets under appropriate heads, and also raise corporate sponsorship to partially recover the recurring costs of running the train beyond the project period