Well, this is a first: The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which offers distance education in India, has collaborated with Nokia to offer a certificate programme in English, according to the Hindu, and highereducationinindia.com. The English course, priced at Rs. 1900 is going to be offered to people as a part of Nokia’s Ovi Life Tools services, and offered mostly as SMS. A pilot will be run for six months in six districts of Maharashtra, following which it may be expanded to other parts of the country.

Nokia has had Learn English lessons as a part of Ovi Life Tools for a while now, powered by EnableM, so there may not have been a need for an IGNOU alternative, but there is an inordinate need for validation and certificates in India; perhaps a certification will drive greater confidence in the course, or a perception of greater utility… and a greater revenue opportunity for Nokia? Remember that Learn English is priced at Rs. 30 per month. According to the Hindu, Ovi Life Tools has 4.7 million subscribers.

Nokia certainly has distribution in place. Nokia has distribution deals in place with Tata Docomo and Reliance Communications, and has been pushing its services suite of Ovi Life Tools in rural India, with partnerships with Reuters Market Light. Ovi Life Tools in available in 18 states and 11 languages (Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya and English), with two plans:
– Rs. 30 per month for daily weather updates and relevant agriculture-related news, advice and tips.
– Rs. 60 month, for the closest market prices for three crops chosen by the subscriber, over and above weather information, news, advice and tips.

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