Knowledge Commission chalks out blueprint for community hubs

Knowledge Commission chalks out blueprint for community hubs

Centres to give info on topics ranging from crop pattern to govt schemes

The Karnataka Knowledge Commission (KKC) has come out with an institutional model for its ambitious proposal of setting up Samudaya Jnana Kendras (SJKs) at the grassroots level to serve as hubs for disseminating information and knowledge to citizens.

KKC, in one of its recommendations submitted to the State government recently, had proposed the setting up of Samudaya Jnana Kendras (community knowledge centre) in a bid to synergise public information delivery at present provided by government-run institutions like Raitha Samparka Kendras, public libraries, primary health centres, Krishi Vigyan Kendras among others and offer the same at a single point.

In other words, information on diverse topics from advice on sowing pattern to educational opportunities and from details on government schemes to weather forecast - would be made available at the proposed centres.

“The government was keen on announcing the proposal during the previous budget year. But we wanted to place before the government a comprehensive working model before venturing ahead,” KKC member-secretary and executive director M K Sridhar has said.

 IT for Change, an NGO, which was commissioned by KKC to develop an institutional model for the centres, has proposed that the centres should be established at the gram panchayat level. In its 219-page report submitted to KKC recently, IT for Change has suggested that to start with, the existing rural public libraries can be converted to SJKs.  It has identified 14 community-level functions that SJKs need to perform.

These include convergence of government information delivery, acting as a Right to Information facilitator, supporting participatory knowledge culture,  providing development communication, skill building, besides developing a bank of traditional and local knowledge.

Point of convergence

According to KKC resource persons, there are 6,000 public libraries including gram panchayat libraries, Raitha Samparka Kendras, providing consultation and advice on cropping patterns to farmers, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, providing training and other extension services in agriculture. The SJK system proposes to bring together activities of these agencies and make it available to the end user on a common platform.

People’s university

The report suggests that SJK system has to be considered as a “people’s university”  and should be insulated from “day-to-day political and bureaucratic interferences”.

In this direction, it has been recommended that SJK should be run by an autonomous “Jnana Sahayaki”, with representatives from all sections of people. It has also been recommended that the SJKs should be made accountable to gram sabhas with resource support and guidance from a dedicated state agency.

The KKC is proposing to place the institutional model of the SJKs before the government soon. Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has been identified as the nodal agency to implement the project, Sridhar said.

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