West Bengal to give out tabs to 9.5 lakh needy HS students
Times of India, 04 December 2020
KOLKATA: The state government has decided to hand out tablet devices to 9.5 lakh students who are set to appear for Higher Secondary examination next year. The move is aimed at bridging the digital divide and providing opportunity to everyone, including the poor and underprivileged, to attend online classes during the pandemic. All secondary schools will also get a free computer for conducting online classes.
“There are around 14,000 government and government-aided schools and 636 madrasas where approximately 9.5 lakh students will sit for the higher secondary examination this year. Since there is no on-campus class now, most of these students, who don’t have access to a smartphone or a computer, are missing out. The government has thus decided to give these students tabs. They can use this during their higher studies also,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said during her meeting with the government employees’ federation at Nabanna on Thursday.
The CM also said the 36,000 secondary schools which will receive a computer each to benefit students from Class VIII onwards who can attend online classes. “The only problem now is internet connectivity,” she added.
However, the experts differ on the utility of the tabs because the examination is close. “The chief minister has thought of the marginal students and the tabs will open up a new world for them. But there are other issues regarding higher secondary that need to be addressed. The students don’t know the examination date and the question pattern after the reduction of 35% syllabus. There have been no practical class this year and they don’t know when they will be taken,” said general secretary of West Bengal Headmasters’ Association Saugata Basu.
“There are only a few months left and it is impossible for the schools to take classes in these few days. So, after getting the tabs, the students might use it for their entertainment, which would be harmful for their studies,” he said.
However, retired headmaster of Bidhananagar High School Tarapada Santra said, “The tabs will give an opportunity to the marginal and underprivileged children to get into the online system. If the government is keen enough, it will hardly take one month to complete the distribution and, after that, the teachers will get the chance to take classes for at least three months. It will help them a lot.”
“But, there is the problem of net connectivity. The connections are not strong everywhere and students might have to suffer. The government needs to look into this problem,” he added.