IN their first year of conducting baseline or competency tests across schools in the state, Maharashtra State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) officials have learnt some lessons on managing their finances. To avoid printing questions papers for the nearly 1.5 crore students across the state, they are mulling over e-question papers to save costs.
This year, SCERT has spent Rs 7 to Rs 7.5 crore — including printing and transportation costs — to ensure printed booklets reach schools on time. Each child requires at least two booklets for Maths and Languages which means over 3 crore seven-page booklets for 1.5 crore students across the state.However, after spending crores on question papers and failing to deliver them to schools on time, SCERT officials are now mulling e-mode system from next year.
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They are also thinking of putting the responsibility of printing and distribution of papers on education officials at district/block level or schools.
Speaking to Newsline, Govind Nandede, director, SCERT, said, “Despite spending crores on question papers, they could not be delivered to schools on time. Hence, taking both costs and delay into account, we are mulling improvement in the system from next year. We are likely to go for an e-tendering process and instead of printed question papers, we will make CDs and send it to local education officials.”
The baseline tests were initially slated to be held in June. However, the tests were pushed ahead by a few months and are now finally being held this month. Sources in SCERT said that the main reason behind the delay is printing and distribution of question papers.
“The idea to put the responsibility of printing and distribution on education officials at district/block level or schools is to avoid headache of delays and haggling over smaller details. We are advocating maximum use of technology to save costs and time,” said an education official.
When asked if the printing costs would be borne by schools, Nandede said, “For small schools, such costs may not be feasible and we will not put the burden on them. Local education boards and bodies can help such schools from their budget for education,” he said.