Two years after it decided to phase out typewriters from government offices by axing the manual typewriting exam, the Maharashtra government has overturned its decision to resume manual typing courses.
This will help at least 200 manual typewriting institutes in the state, but the move has rankled more than 3,000 institute owners who have stopped offering manual typewriting classes and sold their typewriters after the state’s 2017 order.
There are more than 3,500 typing and shorthand training institutes in the state where more than seven lakh students used to appear every year for the Government Certificate in Computer Typing Basic Course (GCC-TBC). The test helped evaluate students’ typing skills and the certification came in handy when people applied for government jobs. But with the push towards computers, the government felt that typewriters were redundant and was keen on shutting such schools.
In October 2013 the Department of School Education and Sports laid down the grounds for discontinuing typewriters saying that typewriting machines are outdated, manufacturers had shut shop and there are no spare parts available in market. “We need computer trained individuals for government offices as we adapt to e-governance,” stated a GR released in October, 2013.
But schools survived till 2017 after repeatedly seeking extension from the government. In August 2017 the government decided that the last manual typewriting exam would be held in the state. The move caused schools that taught only manual typewriting to close. After pressure from certain quarters, the state government had allowed the temporary resumption of such schools till November 2019.
Bt last week, the government decided to allow the continuation of such schools without any conditions.
“The government is giving approval for starting manual typing courses in all government-approved shorthand and typewriting institutes even after November 30, 2019. All approved institutes should change their syllabus to include computer typing along with manual typewriting lessons,” the state government said in a circular.
But many institute owners who had shut down their manual typewriting courses and sold their machines complained about the state government’s frequent flip flops on the issue.
“I welcome the state’s move… However, a large number of institute owners who sold their equipment and shut typewriting courses are complaining about the government’s flip flop. If government has now decided to continue the course, why did it shut it down in the first place?” asked Prakash Karale, president of Maharashtra State Commerce Educational Insitutute’s Association, which represents the interests of such schools.
Those in favour of continuing manual typing courses believe it is easier for those who learn manual typewriting to upgrade to typing on computers. Typewriters are also sturdier and can be used in places that have frequent power outages. However, many believe those who want to keep typewriters are afraid of embracing technology.
“In computer typing courses run by the state, exams are very strict as bio-metric systems are used to identify candidates. They also have to use their brains in programs like Word and Excel. In manual typing exams, the rules are relatively relaxed and there is enough room for a candidate to cheat. This is the reason a lot of people want to continue manual typing exams in the state,” said an owner of a typing institute who did not wished to be named.