PUNE: Nearly 45% schools in the state lack access to computer facilities despite the Digital India campaign making news across the country.
Of the total 97,084 primary schools in the state, over 44,000 do not have the facility. The scene is worse in upper primary (classes VI to VIII) schools where 85.7% of the total sections do not have computer-aided learning labs, as revealed in the data produced by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), Delhi.
Dinkar Temkar, the deputy director of primary education, said number of schools refrained from purchasing the computers because computer education was not compulsory.
"It is not mandatory for all schools to buy computers. If it was compulsory, or if it was one of the parameters of the Right to Education Act, then schools would have bought the equipment," said Temkar.
While there are enough schemes that provide funding to buy computers, the reason that the machines remain unavailable is corruption, pointed out Satish Lokhande, the secretary of the NGO System for Correcting Movement, which works for various educational causes.
"The root cause of all problems is corruption and despite systems being in place, implementation becomes a major issue. We have asked the government to involve civil society or NGOs in teaching school children and spreading computer literacy but nothing has come of it. Second, between 2009 and 2013, almost Rs 800 crore has been spent on education in the state. Yet, there is not much to show for the expenditure," said Lokhande.
According to Krishna Kumar Patil, secretary, Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, even as students of class IX appear for exams in computer-related subjects, basic computer education must be imparted in primary classes.
"Information and Computer Technology subject has been started from class IX onwards. We also have an IT subject in class XI and XII. In these classes, students are given advanced training because it is expected that they have already been introduced to computers in primary school. Basic level training is not given in class IX," said Patil.
Education activist Matin Mujawar suggested that a performance audit was the need of the hour. "The poor go to government schools because they cannot afford private education institutions. A financial audit will only tell us where the money was spent but a performance audit will bring to light the impact of the funds on the target group. Only when we see the impact, will we understand if that is the right way to spend money."