INDIA: In a partnership worth Rs207m, the Indira Gandhi National Open University and the Department for Science & Technology are to develop an exhibition train to tour Indian Railways' broad gauge network, offering educational activities and information to prospective students across the country.

The Gyan Vigyan Mail is expected to spend eight months touring 65 to 70 stations on a pre-defined route, offering at each one 'interesting activities including quizzes, puzzles, audio-visual programmes, CDs, posters, handouts and workbooks', according to Prof Avadhesh Kumar Singh, Director of the School of Translation Studies & Training at Ignou.

The train will be formed of 16 coaches, of which 10 would be dedicated to Ignou's 'knowledge panels', which would include more than 20 liquid-crystal display units, onboard internet provision and a 'mobile planetarium'.

Ignou expects the train to receive more than 500 000 young visitors during the 250-day tour, and the university hopes the project may address the high rate of educational drop-out in India by emphasising the potential employment benefits of degree-level study.