Bureaucratic red tape and lethargic attitude of education department has resulted in long delay of more than eight years in implementation of a scheme of Government of India to introduce ‘Smart Classes’ in Government schools of the state. It took a warning from the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a stern note taken by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and swift action of the Education secretary R Meenakshi Sundaram to make the department move in to action mode.
Forced into action, the education department has now completed ground work for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) for setting up smart classes in 500 Government schools of the State. It is learnt that the MoU would be signed after the end of the model code of conduct enforced in the state in view of the Lok Sabha elections.
A project to install smart classes in the schools of Uttarakhand was approved by the central Government in the year 2011-12. A provision of Rs 90 crore was made for the project. However the education department of Uttarakhand moved at snail’s pace on the scheme. It is learnt that issues related with specification of the equipment resulted in delay. Similarly the process of Expression of Interest (EOI) too got delayed due to disinterest purportedly shown by the companies.
The project has now gained momentum after the interest shown by the Education secretary R Meenakashi Sundaram. When contacted by The Pioneer, he said that the preparations have been made for entering an MoU with TCIL for implementation of the scheme in the state.
He said that in the first phase 500 schools would be included in the project. Sundaram said that apart from setting up equipment in the schools a central studio would be set up in Dehradun.
“We would select best teachers who would teach the students through smart classes.
We are planning to deploy best faculty even from private sector in the venture,’’ he said. After successful installation and operation of the smart classes in these 500 schools in first phase, 642 more schools would be added in the project. One official of the department was of the view that if the scheme was implemented in the year 2011, government schools of the state would have witnessed a face lift.
The sorry state of affairs can be gauged from the fact that the states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are much ahead than Uttarakhand in implementation of the scheme. In UP, the second phase of the scheme is currently under progress while in Bihar third phase of the scheme is underway.
Smart classes is a teaching model that integrates a variety of media- videos, photographs, audio recordings, graphs and illustrations and delivers them across digital platform.
Experts opine that it is unfortunate that an inordinate delay of eight years has occurred in implementation of the smart class scheme. “Smart classes have a potential to revolutionise education in a state like Uttarakhand.
The state education department faces problem due to non availability of quality teachers in the remote and mountainous areas. This handicap can be overcome with effective use of telecommunication technology by the medium of smart classes,’’ said U S Gusian, a retired government school teacher.