a time when central government is pushing hard to create a digitally empowered
society through its flagship programme ‘Digital India’, all of the computers
labs put in place in government-run primary schools in Paradip seaport township
and adjoining areas have turned defunct.
Over 600 computer sets provided to as many
as 90 primary schools across Paradip areas have gone idle long since with Rs 3
crore spent to make the children computer-literate virtually going down the
The computer labs are not in functional
state in any of the schools. It has become inoperative. The department is
trying to reactivate the defunct computer sets and we have sought for funds
from competent authorities in this regard, said an official.
Of the 1751 schools in the district,
ninety schools were picked up for computer education seven years back as part
of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based initiative. Seven
years on, the experiment to make the primary students computer-literate has
apparently failed miserably.
“I an avid listener of PM Modi’s Maan ki
baat programme. He always highlights empowerment of society through
digitalization. After demonetization, he has given the call for plastic money
and cashless transaction. But the ground reality is something else here. My
ward studying in sixth class is well versed in smart phone operation. He is
coaxing me to bring home a computer. But I am not in a position to afford it.
His school has computer lab. But defunct sets are not coming to use. My ward is
disheartened. Students of his age reading in private English medium schools
have turned computer-literate because of facilities available there. My ward is
lagging behind”, said a parent Gobind Charan
Dysfunctional computers adorn the classrooms.
Power backup, photocopy machine, printers and projectors are all in place. But
the computer sets are not in running state. The central processing units have
turned defunct. With funds to reactivate the sets not forthcoming, the CPUs
have taken the shape of decorative pieces, reminding one of the fact that all
is not well in ICT-based initiatives in school education.
Seven sets of desktop computers had been
provided to our school six years back. But all of these went out of order a
year after the installation. We have requested the higher authorities for its
repair. Children mostly from 5th to 7th standard are evincing interest in
computer learning. But we are unable to teach them the basics of computer
education, said Headmaster of Kakata Mangala upper primary school, Sarat Kumar
“My parents have not provided me with a
computer. I was very much keen to learn the basics from school computer lab.
But computers are not working since two years back when I was enrolled in the
school”, said a 7th standard student, Prasant
The ICT-based initiative was doomed to
fail. Though the schools had been electrified, there was no provision of
electricity bill payment. The school authorities struggled hard to pay bills
from meagre Rs 5,000 annual school improvement grants. Non-payment of bills had
also led to disruption of power supply. Besides, teachers were not properly
trained to impart computer education to the students. A weeklong training
programme to a select group of teachers was not enough to make the teachers
computer-literate, commented a retired headmaster of a government-run school,
Abani Mohan Maohanty.
The private school students are picking up
digital literacy at a tender age because these institutions are well equipped
with computer sets and trained computer teachers. However digital literacy is a
far cry for the students of government schools due to gross lack of facilities.
So it is widening the divide among private and government school students as
far computer literacy in concerned, felt an educationist, Basudeb Das.
Take the case of Mahipal upper primary
school. The computer lab remains locked up as the sets are in running
condition. Fate is the same in rest of the 89 schools which had come under ICT
In some of the schools located in the
rural areas, the lab was not operated since the day of its installation due to
power fluctuation. The systems were not supported by power backup and
stabilizers. As a result, the sets turned defunct one after the other due to
non-maintenance, said a cross-section of teachers.
“The computer sets need to be repaired as
students are evincing interest in computer education. All the sets provided to
us are not in working condition. We have informed the higher-ups in this
regard”, said the headmistress of Budhibilasuni upper primary school, Mrs.
Authorities admitted the sorry state of
affairs in ICT programme in primary level schools.
District Education Officer, Sangam Sahu
said “There are deficiencies like defunct sets, erratic power supply and
non-appointment of instructors. The discrepancies are being set right”.
“We have computer lab, but that
exists on paper only. We are unable to understand the basics due to lack of
practice”, quipped 7th standard student of Mahipal UP school, Miss Bishnupriya