AISECT - Providing Vocational Education in 632 Rural & Semi Urban Areas; Trained Over 20 Lakh Candidates So Far
Till date, over 20 lakh students have been trained by our organization. Being an entrepreneurial network, we have generated over 15,000 rural entrepreneurs who in turn offer employment opportunities to over 75,000 people within the AISECT network.
AISECT (All India Society for Electronics & Computer Technology) is among the fastest growing organizations in India and the country’s leading Social Enterprise, working in the areas of Skill Development, Higher Education, Financial Inclusion, E- Governance and other ICT (Information and Communication Technology) based services, with an aim to bring about inclusive change in the semi-urban and rural areas of the country. The organization has taken a host of initiatives in the area of Skilling India, Digital India & e-Governance.
The organization was set up in 1985 when the Government and other private players were focusing on the proliferation of Information Technology and its applications only in the major cities of India. AISECT was formed at that time with the objective of bridging the IT literacy and usage gap between urban and rural parts of the country. Over the years, the organization has come up with a series of path-breaking and award winning innovative initiatives to meet the community’s demand for ICT & skills based education and services.
In an interaction with Sujata Sangwan of BW Businessworld, Santosh Kumar Choubey, Chairman& Managing Director, AISECT shared present status and future plans of the organization.
How are you supporting semi-urban and rural areas? What unique initiatives are you taking for their growth?
With the Modi Government’s emphasis on Skill India, Make in India and Digital India movements, this is the golden era for the socio-economic growth of the semi-urban and rural parts of the country. As an organization that has been working since the past three decades towards the empowerment of those areas through ICT and skills based education and services, we are very excited about these developments and are getting associated with all relevant Government initiatives that are targeted towards the small town, district, block and panchayat level areas.
We have pioneered the concept of multipurpose IT Centres. Currently, through 23,000+ such centres across the country, we offer a one-stop solution to the ICT and skills based education requirements of the local population. Moreover, our centres offer a plethora of B2C and G2C services including exam form download, mobile phone recharge, UID enrolment, PAN Card application, job placement assistance through our portal ‘rojgarmantra.com’, financial inclusion, etc. We have partnered with various departments of the Central and State Governments for the execution of their skill development projects including Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana, National Rural Livelihood Mission, National Skills Qualification Framework, National Urban Livelihood Mission and many more.
What is unique about our initiatives is that they are entirely based on the demands of the local community. Owing to our extensive experience in this space, we understand that the educational and placement requirements of people residing in semi-urban and rural areas are quite different from those of the urban youth. Our solutions are offered basis this requirement. So, if there is a requirement for skill development in the area of agriculture, we have introduced an AISECT Academy for Agriculture in partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation. Moreover, course curriculum is added in Hindi and other regional languages. The timings of the centres are flexible to address the issue of lack of electricity in the remote areas. Easy EMI mode of fee payment has been introduced to make education affordable and accessible for a larger number of people.
On realizing the lack of skills-based learning in the higher education space as well as lack of private institutions in certain areas of the country, we launched 3 premier Universities – the Dr. C.V. Raman University in Bilaspur as the first private University of Central India, the AISECT University in Bhopal as the first skills University of India and the AISECT University in Hazaribagh as the first private University of Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand. For primary education, we have launched Brainy Bear Pre-School & Activity Club as a first-of-its-kind affordable pre-school & activity club chain in smaller towns. In the sphere of online education, our offerings include the portal ‘aisectonline.com’ to empower students in the remotest corners of the country with anywhere, anytime access to education as well as ‘aisectmoocs.com’ as India’s largest free online open learning platform offering over 2,000 courses.
How many projects/programs you organized in rural areas so far and how has been people’s response?
Uplifting the masses of rural and semi urban areas has been the core inspiration behind all our initiatives and programmes. To achieve this, we have organized hundreds of Central and State Government funded programmes across 21 States and trained more than 15 lakhs candidates so far, through them. We are providing vocational education in 632 rural and semi urban areas, which has benefitted more than 25,000 students on a yearly basis. In this context the beneficiaries group that we focus on are Rural BPL youth, unemployed, School drop-outs, Panchayat functionaries, Women SHG and the Minority community. We have also organized e-governance programmes through our 6,000 Common Service Centres at Panchayat level in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Rajasthan to promote G2C and B2C services. To remove the language barrier, which hinders the growth of these regions, we have created content in vernacular languages to associate with the local people and empower them.
People have highly appreciated and acknowledged our efforts for the quality of service delivery. They responded to AISECT’s IT Yatra and Kaushal VikasYatra with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm, as a result of which 15,000 rural entrepreneurs have been produced and lakhs of students have placed as per their skill set.
What innovative initiatives are you taking this year to meet the demand for ICT & skills based education and services?
AISECT was created with the intent to bridge the ICT based gap which exists between the urban India and semi-urban and rural areas of the country. To achieve this AISECT has launched a wide range of services and initiatives this year which include:
•aisectonline.com: We launched this online portal to empower students in the remotest corners of the country with anywhere, anytime access to education. Apart from its educational services, aisectonline.com has now branched into a versatile and diverse range of sectors to provide various services by government departments, private business houses and other organizations in the field of academic, recruitment, online counseling, online assessment examinations and B2C services through our network of 10,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) spread across the nation. In this context, the services that we have recently added to this portal include MP Open Application/Form Filling Service, Electricity Bill Payment Service, Railway Reservation Service, PAN Card Application Service, Online VISA Application Service, Mobile & DTH Bill Payment Service, Insurance Premium Collection Service, Bajaj Auto Finance (Loan) Premium Collection Service, Tele Medicine and Consultation services, Cooking Gas Bill Payment Service and financial services like deposit mobilization, mutual fund investments and stock investments.
•Online Assessment: We have introduced online evaluation of trainees via the usage of tablets in order to switch to a digital mode of assessment.
•We launched our very own live App - AISECT Awaaz - which provides the most recent updates on every endeavor which AISECT is involved in, be it a new course launch, class schedule or exam.
•MIS based Reporting: We ensure MIS based reporting of all Skill Development programs. These management information systems generate reports to evaluate the execution of these programs at all levels to ensure that they are performing their role and aim to the utmost level.
•We organize massive online Training for Trainers (TOT) programme regularly at all our AISECT Centres to provide high-level professional training to our qualified trainers to enhance their competence as they form the framework assisting the population of our target regions to hone their skills and become equipped with the requisite ICT based knowledge.
As Chairman and MD of the firm, what goals have you decided for the coming 5 years?
AISECT has continuously reinvented itself in terms of exploring new domains & sectors and will continue doing so. To further our cause, we have also aligned ourselves with a number of Government schemes and programmes such as Digital India; Skill India; Make in India & Start Up India. We also plan to add products and services to our portfolio which are synergistic with our model as well as expand promising verticals in a faster manner. A couple of our immediate objectives include infusing more technology in our operations and having a younger team heading critical parts of the operations. We intend to collaborate and work hand in hand with the Government and the industry wherever possible so as to realize the Prime Minister’s vision of a Skilled and Digital India.
How many educational institutes has the firm set up so far and what benefits are you providing to youth?
Our educational initiatives encompass the entire educational lifecycle of a student. So, for toddlers and small children, we have set up 16 Brainy Bear Pre-School and Activity Clubs in Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Nagaland and Madhya Pradesh, with over 500 students studying across the centres. For skills based vocational education, we have set up 11 academies in partnership with NSDC to offer university certified undergraduate, postgraduate, certificate and diploma courses in areas like IT & Management, Hardware & Networking, Teacher Training, Livelihood & Vocational Training, Banking, Financial Services & Insurance, Agriculture, Apparel & Textile, Fire Safety & Security, Marketing & Retail, Tourism & Hospitality and Competitive Examinations. Till date, over 3 lakh cumulative student registrations have taken place. Moreover, 63% students were places in 2015-16. The academies function through over 23,000 Skill Knowledge Provider Centres that are spread across 29 States and 3 Union Territories. Through our 3 premier private Universities in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, we are trying to inculcate skills based learning in the higher education framework.
The benefits that students get through an association with us, whether it is our skills academies or the higher education institutions, is that we look at their holistic development so that they are work-ready as soon as they complete the programme. We put a lot of emphasis on skills enhancement and practical learning. Moreover, entrepreneurship development and personality development are core modules of all our programmes. Through guest lectures, workshops, seminars and industry visits, we help our students in getting adequate industry exposure. Moreover, over the years we have built a very strong network with employers in the target regions and therefore we are able to offer excellent placement assistance to our students across all our educational ventures. We conduct annual RojgarMelas in partnership with NSDC to assist the skilled workforce of semi-urban and rural India in securing a job. In 2016-17, we covered 16 states and 60 districts, wherein 20,000 people were registered and more than 12,000 people were placed successfully.
AISECT has been operating since 1985, how has been the journey so far?
The journey has been extremely fulfilling. While entering this domain in the 1980s, when no one else even thought of ICT propagation and proliferation in semi-urban and rural areas, I knew that we will have to overcome a lot of challenges to fulfil our objective. However, we introduced a number of pioneering and innovative solutions to achieve our goals. Today, it is gratifying to see the growth that our organization has seen, more so because the growth reflects the number of people whose lives we have been able to impact and improve through our products and services.
Till date, over 20 lakh students have been trained by our organization. Being an entrepreneurial network, we have generated over 15,000 rural entrepreneurs who in turn offer employment opportunities to over 75,000 people within the AISECT network. As a National Business Correspondent for three nationalized banks and two regional rural banks, we have set up 4,000 banking kiosks in 13 states where over 85 lakh bank accounts have been opened so far, more than INR 800 crore have been deposited in the accounts and transactions worth over INR 4000 crore have been done in these accounts.
There is still a long way to go before we are completely successful in bridging the ICT and skills education and services gap between urban and rural India. However, the efforts that have been made have yielded good results and I think we are moving in the right direction and at the right pace.
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