Netbook project for govt schools comes to nought

Schools are being given five desktop computers each under the computer education programme.

But the department had proposed to provide netbooks in place of the desktop computers so that the students can use them independently, and be introduced to world of information technology. Not only would the project have eliminated the need for UPS at schools, but also put a brake on irregularities in purchase of computers.

Modalities of the project had been worked out under Harsh Gupta, who was the Director of Sarvashikshana Abhiyana.

“It had been decided to provide 25 netbooks each to 10 schools in every district. A total of 332 schools were to receive these devices and preparations had been made to call tenders. But, following Harsh Gupta’s transfer, the project has been shelved and schools will only have the desktops,” an official of the department told Deccan Herald.

Technical glitches

Presently, selected schools are being provided five desktop computers each. UPS systems are also being provided to enable unhindered power supply to run these computers. Including other expenses, an amount of Rs 2.9 lakh is being spent on each school for the purpose of operating the computers, within the limit fixed as per the budget of the department.

However, technical glitches were reported in the functioning of the UPS systems in many schools, which resulted in the computers going idle. The netbook idea was floated as a way to put an end to this problem.

Replacing the desktop computers in the schools with netbooks would also have cut the expenses.

While a netbook costs Rs 12,000 each on an average (cost depends on the configuration), it can be got for as little as Rs 10,000 apiece if purchased in bulk. At this rate, five netbooks can be bought for the price of a desktop computer, using the funds available with the department.

This would result in each student getting a netbook. With six to eight hours of battery backup provided in the netbooks, the need for UPS is eliminated. The students will also not need to go to the computer lab everytime they want to use the computers, since the netbooks can be carried to the classrooms. This helps the maths and science teachers to get their ideas through to the students easily.

It was proposed to provide internet connectivity to the schools with BSNL as the service provider and each school would have got an antenna worth Rs 2.5 lakh. All this was aimed at curbing irregularities in the purchase of computers. But the efforts seem to have been stymied with the netbook idea almost being shelved.

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