The abysmal condition of basic infrastructure in schools and colleges run by the BBMP is standing in the way of full implementation of a project that could transform these schools into institutions providing world-class education. ‘Project BBMP Roshni,’ which is being implemented by software giant Microsoft and technology services organisation Tech Avant-Garde in association with BBMP, envisages equipping 156 BBMP educational institutions with state-of-the-art technology including augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, etc. The Rs 500-crore project aims to enable 21st century thinking and transforming BBMP schools and colleges into a ‘Connected Learning Community.’ With its inauguration in September last year, ‘Project BBMP Roshni’ was set in motion. However, six months down the line, its implementation has run into roadblocks. At a recent meeting called by the BBMP’s Standing Committee on Education, principals of over 100 of the 150 BBMP schools and colleges drew attention to the lack of basic facilities in their institutions. With basic infrastructure way below par they would not be able to offer any activities envisaged under ‘Project BBMP Roshni,’ they said. Just a very small fraction of the funds set aside for the project have been spent so far. The participating corporates too are said to be unhappy with the basic infrastructure. Without that in place, implementing the ambitious project would not be possible, they are reported to have said.
‘Project BBMP Roshni’ is a huge opportunity to bridge the digital divide in Karnataka. It is well-known that children studying in government schools are deprived of access to the latest in technology. This lack of access impacts their educational achievements and access to jobs, subsequently. Indeed, digital deprivation casts a long shadow over their employment and achievements throughout their lives. ‘Project BBMP Roshni’ aimed at changing that for children in BBMP-run educational institutions. It is an opportunity that our civic authorities should be grabbing gratefully with both hands. While the BBMP did well to partner with the technology companies on this project, it has done little to enable them to implement it.
How can we expect ‘Project BBMP Roshni’ to fire up the imagination and curiosity of our children when several BBMP schools and colleges do not have electricity? Classrooms lack ventilation or enough chairs and tables. The low priority accorded to education of children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is evident from the fact that in its latest budget, BBMP set aside a mere pittance for the maintenance of its educational institutions. The BBMP must use the upcoming summer vacation to build and repair facilities in its schools. Only then will ‘Project BBMP Roshni’ be able to take off meaningfully.