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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s televised address to schoolchildren scheduled for Tuesday, on the occasion of Children’s Day, has created confusion, with staff members in some government schools claiming that they have received “verbal suggestions” to make arrangements for students to watch the broadcast live on television sets. Many schools lack resources to comply with the instructions, they said.
Some other District Education Officers (DEOs), however, said that the communication has been read wrongly, and that watching the programme is “not compulsory”.
Staff members of government schools in Khurda and Malkangiri districts told The Indian Express over the telephone that they have received “verbal suggestions” to arrange for television sets and set-top boxes for students to watch Patnaik’s address “in real time”.
“No direct requests were made but we were given strong hints to personally arrange for TV sets,” a school principal in Khurda said.
Stating that Patnaik will deliver an hour-long televised address from 11 am, Markat Keshari Ray, DEO, Koraput, said, “The Chief Minister will also interact with students in Capital High School, Bhubaneswar, which will be telecast live. While students are encouraged to watch the programme, viewership is not compulsory.”
An Education Department official in Khurda district, however, said parents and school development management committees (SDMCs) are required to source the necessary infrastructure for watching the telecast, because the department has no provision to make such arrangements.
At schools in jungle and such interior areas, most of which do not have television sets and set-top boxes etc, principals can get their own TV sets to school and ensure children can watch the CM’s address, an Education Department officer in Malkangiri said.
Laxman Bhoi, DEO, Nuapada, said, “No instructions for compulsory arrangement of TVs and set-top-boxes have been sent to schools (in Nuapada). If a school has existing infrastructure, they are welcome to telecast the CM’s speech within the school premises.”
He said, “Odisha’s PR department has taken the responsibility of arranging television sets and set-top boxes at the gram panchayat-level, where students, their parents and teachers are invited to watch the address. We (DEOs) have the responsibility of informing students, and arrange for them to watch the address. If someone in a village has broadcast infrastructure, we have encouraged them to invite students to watch the programme.”
This year, a UGC circular had asked higher education institutes across the country to make arrangement for students to watch telecast of Modi’s speech live on September 11, marking Sangh ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya’s centenary celebrations. The West Bengal government had refused to follow the UGC circular.