'Computers will boost quality of education'

When the young Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav had declared that if voted to power, his party would give free tablet computers to every student who passed tenth standard, and free laptops to every student clearing the 12th, few believed him and it was taken as just another poll sop. The doubts of the skeptics continued when Akhilesh became the chief minister of the State following a resounding victory in the state assembly election. Three months later, he proved his detractors wrong and the much improved UP Board high school and intermediate results bore testimony to this. For others it might have been a ploy to woo the voters, but for him it was meant to be an incentive to the students and a move to improve the quality of education. Deccan Herald’s Sanjay Pandey had a chat with the youngest chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on the success story and the challenges that lay ahead of him in implementing the promises.

What prompted you to declare free tablets and laptops for students clearing high school and intermediate?

I want the students, including those from the rural areas, to benefit from the information technology revolution. After all, the centre is also laying optical fibre cables in the villages so that the internet facilities reach the villages also. The rural students will gain immensely by the tablets and laptops, which will have software in Hindi and Urdu as well, so that even those who do not known English may also use them.The academic syllabus of the students will also be uploaded. The software will be student-friendly and there will also be built-in 3G connectivity.

Do you think the students will be able to use the tablets and laptops to their benefit?

Certainly, the new generation learns the technology very quickly. The young boys and girls today want to learn new things and we intend to provide them every opportunity. We are also considering setting up a computer university so that the information technology revolution reaches the state.

Those opposed to you say that the scheme cannot be implemented?

It is not easy to implement the scheme. We know that we will face a lot of difficulties. But the government will make sure that the they are overcome. The opposition should not oppose the scheme as it is for the benefit of the students.

The results of the UP Board exams this year are much better. Do you think the promise of tablets and laptops are responsible?

They are definitely an incentive.

Given the poor financial health of UP, how will you fund the schemes?

We have inherited a huge debt lfrom the previous regime. We are now trying to steer the state on the path of progress. A budgetary provision of Rs 1,100 crore has been made for payment of unemployment allowance of Rs 1,000 to jobless  youth, while Rs 2,721 crore has been provided for giving tablets and laptops.

How long will it take to deliver the promises?

It may take some time as procuring such a large number of tablets and laptops is not an easy task. But we will make sure that the students get them within a short time.  


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