Aiming to streamline the ‘smart school’ concept in government primary schools, the Gujarat education department has passed a model to define the term and the functionality of a smart school. With each district having its own version of a ‘smart school’, some even using the term with mere installation of an LCD in one classroom the education department took this decision.
From LED television sets, LED projector, laptop, printer with scanning facility, biometric attendance device, wi-fi zone, e-content, Building as Learning Aid (BaLA), Internet connectivity and school management software, the smart school model defines these parameters with an estimated cost of Rs 17.5 lakh for each school as the requisites for a smart school.
The education department has not only prepared the model for a smart school but also would be implementing it in nearly 6,500 schools in the initial phase. “The selection of schools where this smart school model would be implemented is based on the recent Gunotsav grades. Schools with A+ and A grade would be taken under the pilot study,” confirmed Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) state project director Mukesh Kumar.
In joint collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), SSA is preparing e-content for these 6,500 schools and approved by the IT committee of the education department. While, as per the model guidelines, the schools can only use the e-content that is approved by Gujarat Council of Education Research and Training (GCERT).
Recently, the education department passed a notification to allow private companies and even individuals to provide ‘e-content literature’ to state government primary and secondary schools through GCERT that would charge a fee of Rs 25,000 for scrutiny and verification of the e-content.
“It has taken several months to streamline this smart school concept as various objections and technical feasibility issues were raised during discussions with the senior education officers and the education minister. Finally, it got approved and is now in the implementation mode. At present, government school teachers are being trained for using various aspects of a smart school,” revealed a senior education department officer.
Thus, the existing government schools with best performance ratings would be converted into smart schools using IT tools to bridge the digital divide.
The smart school model prepared by the SSA talks about using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools for education, real time evaluation and monitoring of teachers as well as students by tracking their attendance and performance, preparing health cards for students and District Information System for Education (DISE) reports as well as using in the school administrative work.
The model also mentions the source of funds as expenditure from MLA grant or under state government’s Apno Taluka Vibrant Taluka (ATVT) project or district planning board funds. Also, the school management committees formed under the Right to Education Act are to be entrusted with the safety and security of ICT hardware and other equipment being used in the school.