BMC wants students from Std V to X to get new tabs
While the idea is to provide tablets for all students from Std V to Std X, it will take a year to materialise, and won't be of help to them in the current situation
After giving tabs to students from Stds VIII to X, now the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants to give them to students from Std V onwards. There are around one lakh students from Std V to Std X. While the state government has emphasised e-learning, especially in the pandemic, more than 50 per cent of the students of municipal schools don't have access to tabs or android mobiles. Also, the move cannot help them this year, as the idea is still in primary stage and will take more than a year to become a reality.
New on their mind
In the past five years, the BMC has spent almost R50 crore on tabs for students. In June 2019, it invited tenders for the repair and maintenance of all tabs for two years and the replacement of six per cent of them. While the process of tendering has been completed, now the BMC is thinking instead, of buying new tablets. "The tablets are five years old and they may not work properly even after repairs," said an official from BMC. Another official said the cost of the repair and maintenance would be R20 crore.
"The BMC is thinking of buying tablets for students from Std V. The idea is, the student will use a tablet till Std X and take it with him/her. But it is in primary stage and we also have to look into the budget provision before going forward," said Ashutosh Salil, joint municipal commissioner.
"The final decision has not been taken as yet," said Mahesh Palkar, education officer at the BMC adding that the online learning has anyway begun for BMC school children with available resources. There are around one lakh students from Std V to Std X. The process will take another year.
'Worth the investment'
The plan is already reportedly receiving good reactions. But everybody has pointed out that time is the major factor, as if this idea is not worked on immediately, students will lag behind in e-learning, compared to their counterparts in private schools.
"The data already shows that many BMC school children, considering the socioeconomic background that they belong to, cannot take advantage of technology in the e-learning process that is now significant under lockdown. This concept of each student with his/her own tab is definitely going to be of great help. The budgetary provision should also not be difficult for the civic body" said Sainath Durge, from the Yuva Sena, who is a member of the education committee of the BMC.
Teachers are worried as to when the plan will be implemented, since online learning has started in all schools. "Right now we are depending on available resources. But some students are missing out on alternative learning modules through phones. If acquiring these tabs is going to take another year then it will not be of help," said a teacher.
An eye on cost
BMC awarded a contract of R32 crore to M/s Techno Electronics Ltd to provide tabs for three years in 2015. In the first year, BMC brought 22,799 tabs at R6,850 each. In 2018, BMC gave another contract to M/s Karvy Data Management Services. The contract was for R18 crore for 18,078 tabs. Each tab cost BMC around R10,000.
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