Govt’s education panel says keep computers out of primary classes

Even as computer-assisted learning,automated lessons,virtual lectures and e-textbooks are increasingly making inroads into classrooms across the country,a government committee has now said there should be no computers for primary classes. Computers

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi | Published: April 10, 2012 3:53 am

Even as computer-assisted learning,automated lessons,virtual lectures and e-textbooks are increasingly making inroads into classrooms across the country,a government committee has now said there should be no computers for primary classes. Computers,it is recommended,should enter classrooms not earlier than the upper-primary stage of schooling.

Concerned over young children “staring at computer screens and wielding the keyboard or mouse” even though their motor skills may be underdeveloped,the committee has said that it would be “inappropriate” to introduce younger children to computer literacy. Research studies back this,says the committee report.

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE),the apex education body,will take up the report at its April 23 meeting. A sub-panel of CABE,the committee had been set up under Anshu Vaish,the Secretary,Department of School Education and Literacy,HRD Ministry. The members include Biocon CEO Kiran Mazumdar Shaw,Prof Kiran Seth and educationist Vinod Raina.

“It is not uncommon in well-equipped schools to find very young children whose motor skills and hand-eye coordination are inadequately developed staring at computer screens and wielding the keyboard or mouse. Research studies have established adequately that it would be inappropriate to introduce very young children to such activities,” reads the report of the committee.

It also argues that the software applications and electronic resources available in schools are woefully inadequate and inappropriate and tend to support “non-constructivist methods and deny opportunities to children”. This it is argued,is contrary to the spirit of the National Curriculum Framework that emphasises the need for young children to “deal with experiences derived from their immediate surroundings”.

It is recommended that computer literacy classes only begin in the upper-primary stage of schooling “where students are in a position to independently explore the world of information”.

At this stage,it is suggested,every attempt must be made to ensure that each student gets a requisite “minimum computer access time” and schools must make this possible by providing adequate number of computers to maintain an appropriate pupil-computer ratio.

“The inability of the school system to provide adequate numbers of computers appropriate to class strength has led to situations where many students share the computer at the same time,denying them any opportunity to interact with the medium directly. Large numbers of students in a school also leads to inadequate number of computer sessions for each student. There is therefore a need to specify minimum computer access time for every student. It is recommended that the school strength be used as a criterion while deciding on the quantum of resources. States can explore current technological advancements and low-cost options to facilitate better computer-student ratios,” the committee has submitted.

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