Srinagar: The Government of India’s move to set up digital libraries in JK schools is a step which will enable students without smartphones to get online education, but the pilot project that will launch this plan is too small to make a difference, and also does not solve the problem of students who do not have internet access.
The official document says that the government will give tablets to schools for distribution among underprivileged students. In the first phase, Rs 30.16 lakh to procure tablets for 377 schools has been earmarked for it. The facility is provided for Government and Government Aided Schools from classes VI to XII.
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)-Rural 2021, 15.6 % of students in J&K do not have access to smartphones, and there are some 4,000 Government and Government Aided Schools from classes VI to XII in J&K. Would the government’s move to provide the facilities only to less than 10 percent of them solve the problems of inaccessibility?
For Sheikh Inayatullah, founder director of career counselling centre, Move Beyond, the facilities will definitely benefit the covered students, subject to basic skills of how to navigate through the internet. He said it should not be taken as a given that these students would be knowing how to use Google, for example. Regarding the question of not taking all students on board, he said it has to be seen whether it serves its purpose as a pilot project, and if and when it is extended to the rest of the students.
“The government must have a logic for this scheme. But if it is for only a select few, the government must make a review, and extend it to all. It is a good idea to empower the impoverished, but all must be brought under the ambit of the scheme,” Inayatullah said.
Director School Education, Tassaduq Hussain Mir, was not available for his comments on this subject.