Centre trips on bridging digital divide

Meagre fund hike for revised ICT scheme for govt and aided schools

Centre trips  on bridging digital divide


The reason: the implementation of its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) scheme under the Technology in Education mission for government and aided primary and secondary schools for the purpose is running behind schedule.   

On Saturday, a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved a revised ICT scheme, under which the Centre will spend Rs 6,929 crore as against the initial 11th Plan outlay of Rs 6,000 crore.
Though there were expectations that the Centre might substantially hike the allocation, the enhancement is less than Rs 1,000 crore. A revision of the ICT scheme was proposed last year in view of the slow pace of progress in implementing the 11th Plan target of providing computer facilities to all government and aided primary and secondary schools in the country by the end of the Plan period — March 31, 2012.

The revision was to make provision for improved computer and communication infrastructure facilities to the schools, provide dedicated teachers, focused training in ICT, broadband connectivity, etc.

Initial estimate
There are over 10 lakh primary and secondary schools in the country. Initially it was estimated that each government and aided school would require about Rs 6.7 lakh towards setting up a computer-enabled teaching/learning system.
Briefing newspersons after the CCEA meeting, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, however, said the “revised scheme on ICT will cover about 1.08 lakh government and government-aided secondary and higher secondary schools and would help bridge the digital divide.” 

As against the initially planned Rs 6,000 crore spending during the five years of the 11th Plan period ending March 31, 2012, last year the Centre had spent about Rs 275 crore on the scheme by way of grants-in-aid to the States and UTs.
Under the ICT scheme, the Centre provides 75 per cent share while the states, other than the northeastern states, bear 25 per cent. This proportion remains unchanged under the revised scheme.

The minister said the scheme seeks to provide dependable power supply and internet connectivity, preferably broadband, to the schools under the scheme. He said the revised scheme would enable teachers and students to get acquainted with the ICT in education.
The schools get the required computer hardware (at least five PCs), software and e-content for the purpose.

The government had launched the ICT scheme in 2004. In 2006, the government had proposed to complete implementation of the ICT scheme in all government and aided primary and secondary schools by 2009. But a year later, when the 11th Plan was set in motion, a revised deadline was set to meet the target by 2012.
The minister said the revised scheme would cover an additional 58,000 schools.
DH News Service

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