'The idea is to utilise the popularity of social networking sites among students. Most of them spend a lot of time on such websites every day,' a senior official of the state's information technology department, which is developing the portal, told IANS.
The government portal will give tips to students on subjects like physics, chemistry and mathematics. Experts will be roped in to answer the academic queries students post on it.
'We thought why not make it a bit educational so that students can not only enjoy the fun that these sites offer but also get to learn something,' the official said.
Students will be able to open up their individual accounts, add friends, upload photographs, play games and interact among themselves just like they do on Facebook.
'What makes it stand out is the fact that there will be subject-specific links on the home page. We will store e-books, objective questions and coaching material related to each subject,' the officer added.
The development of the portal is in the final phase, he said.
The government should popularise the website by approaching educational institutes across the state, including schools, colleges and coaching centres, said Abhishek Sharma, a volunteer working with a local NGO.
'The students should be encouraged by the institutes to use this portal,' Sharma told IANS.
'It will be fun to have such a social networking website. I usually get distracted by these sites, but fun and studies going together must be great. I am eagerly waiting for the site to be launched,' said Manu Mishra, a Class 11 student.
Parents have also welcomed the initiative.
'My son spends half of his time on social networking websites which could be utilised for sports or studies. I will definitely encourage him to use the portal being launched by the government as it will at least have some study or course and subject material,' said Ramkumar Joshi, parent of a Class 12 student.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)