More than half of secondary schools do not have science labs

More than half of secondary schools do not have science labs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have been encouraging students to become scientists and innovators but more than half of country’s secondary schools do not have science laboratories.

At secondary level, more than 20 per cent science laboratories are partially equipped while only about one third of these schools have separate rooms for physics, chemistry and biology laboratories.   

At a time when the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is investing effort and funds to create a library of audio-video tutorials on various subjects and making them available online for school and college students, about one third of the secondary and higher secondary schools do not have any computer for students.

Statistics

According to latest statistics with the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, only 41.28 per cent schools had an integrated science laboratory for students of Class IX and X in 2014-15. The percentage of schools with “separate rooms” for physics, chemistry and biology laboratories for Class XI and XII remained 32.04.

Of them, only 63.44 per cent physics laboratories were fully equipped. Computers were available in 66.82 per cent secondary schools and 71.39 per cent higher secondary schools.

 But only 36.87 secondary schools had internet connection while the percentage of higher secondary schools with no internet connection remained at 47.87, though 63.42 per cent of these schools had power supply.
 
Compared to the data collected for 2013-14, there is a slight increase in the number of science laboratories in schools in 2014-15, ranging from about one to three per cent, notwithstanding the prime minister consistently making a strong pitch for promotion of scientific spirit among schoolchildren and asking students to consider becoming scientists and innovators.

The HRD Ministry recently rolled out Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan to make science, mathematics and technology exciting to students in the age group of 6-18 years.

The programme proposes to set up science and mathematics clubs and laboratories for children to conduct various in house and outdoor activities and also provide training to the teachers under the mentorship of IITs, IIMs and IISERs and other centrally funded institutes. 

But many teachers and experts feel that the programme could hardly make any difference as the Ministry has proposed to implement it under the current budgetary provisions made for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan , instead of making a separate funding provision for it.

“Theoretically every programme can be implemented but where is the fund for the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan? The government has already slashed the budgetary allocations for the Ministry,” K Rajendran, general secretary of the School Teachers’ Federation of India, told Deccan Herald.  
The government must increase spending on education from the current 3.8 per cent to at least 6 per cent in compliance with the Kothari commission’s recommendation to improve access and quality of education in country, he added.

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