After unveiling its e-Governance policy in January, the Tamil Nadu government is on a roll, forging tie-ups with biggies such as Google and Microsoft to encourage IT adoption across the fields of women enterprise and education, respectively. The state government in partnership with Google and Tata Trusts recently announced Internet Saathi programme of the search engine major, in Tamil Nadu, to promote digital literacy, especially among the women folk. Internet Saathi, a digital literacy programme for women in the rural areas, primarily deals with how to access and use the internet, and how they could in turn impart training to their community and neighbouring villages. Similarly, the Tamil Nadu government has announced an agreement with Microsoft to improve the integration of technology in teaching and learning in the state. The partnership aims to reform education, build tech capacity and enhance digital literacy across all levels. As a part of the agreement, Microsoft will adopt seven schools identified by the government and train their teachers and students around building 21st century skills which includes critical thinking, creative coding & gaming, app development, robotics, and entrepreneurship.
Google and Tamil Nadu government also announced other initiatives to support the digitisation efforts in the state, as part of Internet Saathi. Google will facilitate the provision of Google cloud credits and access through its affiliate, for eligible start-ups engaged with Tamil Nadu government’s start-up initiative. Google India will also, through its developer relations team, provide technical mentorship and advisory support to various start-ups. Launched as a pilot in Rajasthan in July 2015 along with Tata Trusts, Google had announced plans to scale the Internet Saathi programme, to cover 300,000 villages across India in December 2015. In Tamil Nadu, the programme has already started to roll out and will be covering over 4000 villages across 6 districts. M Manikandan, minister for information technology, Tamil Nadu said, “Google India is a valuable partner of the state of Tamil Nadu and we are happy to launch the Internet Saathi programme that will benefit rural women, across our state. We believe all the initiatives launched with them will benefit women, small businesses, youth, and others across our state. Our mission is to digitise Tamil Nadu and Google’s efforts in the state will help in the same direction.” Chetan Krishnaswamy, director, Public Policy, Google India said, “We have been hard at work, in partnership with Tata Trusts to change the female: male ratio of new Internet users in rural India and in the last two years have seen it move from 1 in 10 in 2015 to 3 in 10 in 2017. We are delighted with the progress we have made with the Internet Saathi model and the impact it has had on the saathis, their families, kids and their communities. Through our expansion in Tamil Nadu, we hope to benefit over 6 lakh women in the first phase of the programme and will be adding more villages as we move forward.”
Microsoft , as a part of the agreement, will adopt seven schools identified by the government and train their teachers and students around building 21st century skills which includes critical thinking, creative coding & gaming, app development, robotics, and entrepreneurship. Microsoft will also offer its Microsoft Innovative Educator Programme to all educators in primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary education across the state. Talking of the agreement, KA Sengottaiyan, minister for school education, Tamil Nadu government said, “We are committed to harnessing the power of the technology to reform education in Tamil Nadu and make our youth future-ready with the essential digital skills. We have a longstanding partnership with Microsoft and believe their expertise in this area makes them an ideal partner for our transformational initiatives.”