AISECT: Bridging the ICT Literacy Gap between Urban and Rural India

Santosh Kumar Choubey, FounderAll India Society for Electronics & Computer Technology(AISECT) is India’s leading Social Enterprise that is working in the areas of Skill Development, Higher Education, Financial Inclusion, e-Governance and other ICT-based services to bring about an inclusive change in the semi-urban and rural areas of the country. Established in 1985, the Bhopal-headquartered organization joined its hands with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in May 2012 with the objective of skilling 13 lakh youth by 2020. Striving to meet its objective, AISECT has been untiringly reaching out to the remotest corners of the country to empower people, generate employment for the youth and unfold entrepreneurial initiatives. The multipurpose, self sustainable, scalable and entrepreneurial model of AISECT addresses the demands of local communities for various skills and ICT-based services required in the unorganized sector. Aspiring to uplift and empower the rural and semi-urban masses, AISECT has taken a number of pathbreaking initiatives. Some of these programs are:

Vocational Education in Collaboration with the NSDC: In partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the AISECT has set up 12 vocational training academies which offer over 150 low cost, high quality university certified undergraduate, postgraduate, certificate and diploma courses in areas like IT & Management, Teacher Training, Apparel & Textile, Banking, Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing & Retail, Hardware & Networking, Livelihood & Vocational Training, Fire Safety & Security, Agriculture, Tourism & Hospitality, Competitive Examinations and Beauty & Wellness.

Till date, AISECT has had 4,18,740 candidates enrolled for various programs offered under its partnership with NSDC, out of which 3,63,710 candidates have been trained, 1,54,048 have been successfully placed and over 23,720 candidates have been up-skilled. As part of this partnership, annual AISECT-NSDC Rojgar Melas (job fairs) are also organized. In 2016-17, the Melas covered 16 states and 60 districts, wherein 20,000 people were registered and more than 12,000 people were placed successfully. AISECT-NSDC Kaushal Vikas Yatra was also organized across all the AISECT-NSDC Project States, with the objective of spreading awareness on importance and credibility of skill development among youth.

Government Skilling Projects: AISECT is successfully executing a number of skill development projects of the Central and State Governments, including Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs), Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) Project, and many more.

Under these State Government Department Skilling Initiatives, AISECT has executed employment-based skill development training for the youth belonging to SC, ST, OBC & Minorities categories. Under all these schemes, till date, 81,870 people have been trained across 9 states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tripura and Bihar. AISECT has also partnered with 12 State Skill Development Missions (SDMs) in states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Gujarat. The organization is providing capacity building training for Sarpanch, Sachivs, Gram Rojgar Sahayaks and other PRI members across Madhya Pradesh and has also trained 9,152 Sachivs, 500 Women PRI, 8,850 Gram Rojgar Sahayaks (GRS) and 10,000 Sarpanchs & PRI. AISECT has also joined hands with 13 Sector Skill Councils for developing relevant training modules in association with industry experts for more than 100 Job Roles as per QPNOS based curriculum.

AISECT is also the Programme Implementing Agency of various CSR programs for PSUs, NSDC and Corporates that are integrating and internalizing CSR into their core business operations. Some of these organizations include Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Limited, National Aluminium Company Limited, Power Grid Project, National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd.

Promoting Financial Inclusion: AISECT works as a National Business Correspondent for three nationalized banks, namely the State Bank of India, the Bank of Baroda and the Bank of India, as well as two Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), i.e. the Punjab Gramin Bank and the Madhyanchal Gramin Bank. Till date, the organization has set up 4,000 banking kiosks in 13 states. Over 85 lakh bank accounts have been opened in these banking kiosks and transactions worth over INR 20,000 crore have been done in these accounts.
These banking kiosks also offer a host of services under Government schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, the Atal Pension Yojana, and more. Moreover, AISECT has recently launched the AISECT BharatPay Prepaid Card in partnership with Digicard Services. This reloadable open-loop prepaid card, with Yes Bank and RuPay co-branding, has been launched as a smart and easy-to-acquire alternative to carrying cash with an aim of boosting digital and cashless transactions in the district, block and panchayat level areas of the country. AISECT is also working with the State Bank of India for rolling-out its Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) Project across 370 Toll Plazas on National Highways. Using the FASTag reloadable RFID tag, this service will allow automatic deduction of toll charges and lets vehicles pass through the toll plaza without stopping for the cash transaction.

AISECT has had 4,18,740 candidates enrolled for various programs offered under its partnership with NSDC, out of which 3,63,710 candidates have been trained, 1,54,048 have been successfully placed and over 23,720 candidates have been up-skilled.

Skill-based Curriculum for Higher Education Sector
So far, AISECT Group of Universities has established four premier higher education institutions at locations that were in dire need of quality higher education ecosystem. In 2006, AISECT established Dr. C.V. Raman University Chhattisgarh (CVRU) in the tribal areas of KotaBilaspur as Central India’s first private university. Till date, CVRU is India’s only private university in a tribal area, and the only NAAC accredited private university of Chhattisgarh. Moreover, Rabindranath Tagore University (RNTU), formerly known as AISECT University, was established in Bhopal in 2012 as India’s first Skills University. The AISECT University Jharkhand was established in 2016, in Hazaribag district as the first private university of the district and the first Skills University of Jharkhand. “Recently, we, at AISECT Group have also launched Dr. C.V. Raman University, Bihar in Vaishali district as the State’s first Skills University. Furthermore, SCOPE Group of Institute was established in Bhopal with SCOPE College of Engineering and SCOPE College of Education falling under this Group.

Keeping up with its objectives, AISECT Group has also signed an MoU with the Government of Assam to open Dr. C.V. Raman University in the state by the end of 2018. In the near future, AISECT Group of Universities plans to establish more skills-based and affordable quality higher education institutions in semi-urban and rural parts of the country,” shares Santosh Kumar Choubey, Founder, AISECT. Other than the highschools, AISECT has also ventured into the preschool and activity club segment by launching 'The Brainy Bear Pre-School & Activity Club', which is a first-of-its-kind affordable pre-school and activity hub chain for kids in cities, small towns as well as district level areas. This venture currently has 16 centers across six states with over 500 students studying at present.

Embracing the power of the internet, AISECT is also encouraging the MOOCs model of online course delivery via which is India’s largest free online open learning platform with over 2000 free certificate and diploma courses available in both English and Hindi. Launched in association with Ireland based ALISON, the portal offers inclusivity in education by giving students even in the remotest corners of the country easy and free access to world-class course curriculum. In a blended model, the students enrolled for AISECT MOOC courses have the choice of studying at home or coming to the AISECT Centre to make use of the available facilities. “We also have - a one-stop window that makes various digital services accessible to the common man in their rural locality. The portal is integrated with Government departments, private businesses and other organizations and provides a host of educational services, MOOCs as well as B2C and G2C services. Our portal delivers 225 educational programs and up to date, almost 2 lakh students have registered on this portal,” adds Santosh.

"AISECT has also joined hands with 13 sector skill councils for developing relevant Training modules in association with industry experts for more than 100 job roles As per QP-NOS based curriculum"

Renowned for its Distinctiveness
Owing to its range of offerings and services, AISECT has won numerous awards and accolades at prestigious national and international platforms. It has been listed in a World Bank-IIM(A) Joint Report as ‘the most sustainable and scalable form of IT penetration & popularization in India’. It has also been recognized by UNDP for its innovative ICT-based vocational training to youth in rural and semi-urban India. AISECT is also among the top cases chosen for the Case Study Compendium 2015 of the Sitaram Rao Livelihood Asia Case Study Competition. Key awards that the organization has won including Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award instituted by the World Economic Forum as well as the Ashoka Senior Fellowship for AISECT’s Founder and Chairman Santosh Choubey, Indian Innovation Award, Manthan Award South Asia & Asia Pacific, SKOCH Corporate Leadership Award, NASSCOM I.T. Innovation Award, Asian Forum i4d Award, TiE Lumis Partners Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, Golden Icon National e-Governance Award, ASSOCHAM National Education Excellence Award, NASSCOM EMERGE 50 Leader Award, World Education Summit Award, Inc. India 500 Award, eGov India Award, Financial Inclusion & Payment Systems Award and Shiksha Ratna Award among others.

Today, AISECT has a strong presence across 475 Districts, 1500 Blocks and 7200 Panchayats across 29 States and 3 Union Territories through over 20,000 Centres, 12 State Offices and 28 Regional Offices. The organization has imparted skills based training to over 20 lakh people, created employment opportunities within the network for more than 75,000 people and empowered the lives of over 50 lakh people through various innovative products and services. “Our job portal is a one-of-a-kind portal that addresses even the entry level manpower requirements of private and public sector enterprises at the small town, district and block levels. With over 11 lakh job seekers successfully placed so far, Rojgar Mantra is the biggest rural job placement initiative of India,” shares Santosh. In the coming times, AISECT will vest its focus towards further penetration into rural India by bridging the language and connectivity barriers and creating various technology based platforms. Further, to promote skills based learning in the higher education framework, AISECT is looking forward to work towards establishing more universities in semiurban and rural India.