MoU to Transform Tribal Schools

News: Recently, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MTA) 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.

About Eklavya Model Residential Schools

  • EMRS started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to Schedule Tribes children in remote areas. The schools focus not only on academic education but on the all-round development of the students.
  • The objective of EMRS is to provide quality middle and high level education to ST students in remote areas, not only to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and as jobs in government and public and private sectors but also to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non ST population.
  • Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII. These are being set up by grants provided under Article 275(1) of the Constitution. These are funded by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • In order to give further impetus to EMRS, it has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS.
  • Eklavya schools are on par with Navodaya Vidyalaya and have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

About Ashram Schools

  • Ashram schools are residential schools, in which free boarding and lodging along with other facilities and incentives are provided to the students. Apart from formal education, there is emphasis put upon physical activities, meditation, sight-seeing, play, sports, games, and other.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs provides construction costs and the State Government is responsible for running and overall maintenance of these Ashram schools including selection of medium of instruction.
  • So far, the Ministry has funded 1,205 Ashram Schools across the country for quality education of ST children.

Details about the recent MoU:

  • It is aimed at building an inclusive, skills-based economy.
  • Artificial Intelligence curriculum will be made available to tribal students in both English and Hindi at all EMRS schools to skill educators and students in next-generation technologies.
  • In the first phase, 250 EMRS schools have been adopted by Microsoft, out of which 50 EMRS schools will be given intensive training and 500 master trainers would be trained in the first phase.
  • Teachers across states in India will be trained in a phased manner for using productivity technologies like Office 365 and AI applications in teaching. The program will also offer opportunities for teachers to earn professional e-badges and e-certificates from the Microsoft Education Centre.
  • 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).

Its Significance:

  • This program will ensure that tribal students get a chance to change their future, their environment, their village, and overall community. The initiative will also enable the professional development of educators, enabling them to use technology in classrooms. It will help in the success of digital India Mission. It will be able to bridge the gap between the tribal students and others.