First city outside the U.S. and first in India to host it

The Wikimedia Foundation launched its Campus Ambassadors Program here on Sunday, making Pune the first city in India and the first city outside the United States, to host the Program. Part of the ‘India Education Program,' the 22 Campus Ambassadors will be working towards promoting Wikipedia as a tool in education across institutes here.

Speaking about the choice of Pune for the Program, Hisham Mundol of the Foundation's India Programs said, “Pune has a strong heritage in education and a huge student body. So when we thought of piloting the Program in India, we knew we had to target the centre.”

Sharing the reason for choosing India, Frank Schulenburg, Head of Public Outreach at the Wikimedia Foundation, said: “We need a lot more writers from India, and a lot about India needs to be written. This is why we sensed the biggest global opportunity in India.”

The Foundation's aim was also to increase the number of Indic language pages in India. Pune, having a diverse population mix, could help in that aspect as well, Mr. Mundol said.

The Program would encourage the use of Wikipedia in colleges. The Campus Ambassadors would form a network of students and professors in the city and train them to write and edit articles on Wikipedia, thus increasing the academic value. One of the main aims, Mr. Mundol said, was also to get professors to give assignments in the form of writing Wikipedia articles. “This will enhance research and critical writing skills in students.”

The U.S. experience

Talking about the experience in the U.S., Mr. Shulenburg said, “We have experienced that the quality of classwork gets very high when Wikipedia is used as an education tool. The level of motivation is very ,” said Mr. Shulenburg.