The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes Management (IIMs) will be launching free online courses according to Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani. The online courses are part of the digital initiatives and education reforms titled SWAYAM (study webs of active-learning for young aspiring minds), launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Students will however have to pay a nominal fee for certification of various online courses. People with special abilities and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will be exempt from these payments.
Rs 100 crore will go towards online education for MOOCs as well as virtual classrooms from the Indian government. The free online courses will be available on a web platform to be launched by the HRD ministry on September 25. Seven institutes - three IITs at Bombay, Chennai and Guwahati and four central universities (Delhi, Punjab, Manipur and Banaras Hindu University) - will offer courses in engineering, social sciences, agriculture, energy, management and basic sciences. Educational reforms will also be initiated including setting up of a national academic depository for central digitisation of awards, degrees and mark sheets, national e-library, quality enhancement programme for higher education teachers and 'know your college portals'.