Dreamspark To Equip Indian Students : MoS

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (UNI) American magnate Bill Gates' eight-month-old software giveaway-- Dreamspark-- arrived in India today and was seen by authorities as likely to equip Indian students with 21st century ''employability'' skills.

''Dreamspark is all about giving students Microsoft professional- level developer and design tools at no charge,'' Minister of State for Human Resource Development D Purandeswari said at the programme's launch for Indian students.

The move was unveiled by Gates at America's Stanford University in February 2008 to give millions of college and high school students around the world access to such tools to unlock their creative potential, setting them on the way to academic and career success.

A Microsoft e-statement indicated the programme was available to more than 35 million college students in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and the United States. It was expected to potentially reach a billion students worldwide over the next twelve months.

Softwares DreamSpark includes: Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition, Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition, XNA Game Studio 2.0, a 12-month free Academic membership in the XNA Creators Club, Expression Studio, SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server Standard Edition.

The launch at the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi facilitates a link to Dreamspark website from the Ministry's Sakshat Portal, Mrs Purandeswari said.

Welcoming Gates ''on behalf of the Government of India... and on my own behalf,'' she noted that Dreamspark ''is planned to be launched in 11 countries and India is one of the major beneficiaries.'' She told audience the ''vision of this innovative programme by Microsoft is to induce the students to chase their dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology.'' She said ''students who intend to get the free software will be provided a Live ID from the Sakshat Portal.'' ''I hope that the DreamSpark programme will spark students' creativity and help them harness software's transformative magic to turn their ideas into reality, by equipping him (or) her with the tools they need to succeed and excel during their academic experience and skills they will need after graduation.'' She said Microsoft ''is also willing to collaborate with MHRD for creating 100,000 ICT champions who would be basically faculty members from higher educational institutions in the country.'' This will help India accelerate the process of eLearning revolution, she said.

Mrs Purandeswari spoke of possible Microsoft collaboration in scholarship management, learning management systems, developing course materials, certification and testing, eJournals and eBooks and sharing best practices.

She suggested working together to devise strategies to spread digital literacy ''among people on the other side of the digital divide within a reasonable timeframe.'' She said the ''present venture'' was an opportunity which, if implemented and ''utilised properly would, I hope, be a win-win situation both for Microsoft and India.'' UNI MJ PK BST2243

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