Cashing in on free bank of knowledge

20th June 2008 at 01:00
In the western world, people queue up at automated tellers to extract cash
In the western world, people queue up at automated tellers to extract cash. But in India, rural children are queuing up at their local hole-in-the-wall machine to learn. They give pupils access to remotely monitored computers containing free lessons.

Success stories have included a girl who taught herself about biotechnology and DNA sequencing and a group of Hindi-speaking children who learnt English.

Backers of the project, which was set up by a researcher at Newcastle University, say a single hole-in-the-wall computer can make 300 children PC literate in three months.

And what is the motivation of NIIT, the Indian technology company promoting the scheme? Taking education to some of the poorest children in the world, obviously.

But judging by the comments of the project's founder, Dr Sugata Mitra, it may also be about manning the call centres of tomorrow.

"India is developing a reputation as a serious global outsourcing base," he said.

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