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Computer education in MCD schools behind schedule

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 12. Project Sharda, the ambitious computer education project in the municipal primary schools of the Capital, seems to have hit a roadblock.

Running far behind schedule, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has not only been unable to provide the basic infrastructural facilities in its 485 primary schools so far, but also computer education is yet to begin in those schools where a computer lab has been established.

Inaugurated by the Delhi Mayor, A.R. Verma, on July 27, the civic body had planned to complete the first phase of Project Sharda in as many as 485 municipal primary schools by September. The deadline has now been extended to October 2 after which the second phase of computer education in 515 schools would be launched.

Sources in the civic body said this was due to red-tapism and `slow pace of work' by the Network for Information and Computer Technology (NICT), the firm which was awarded the contract for providing computer education in as many as 239 schools in Sadar, Paharganj, Narela and Rohini Zones of the MCD.While the second firm, Micro Computer Services, has set up the computer labs in about 90 per cent of 246 schools in Karol Bagh, Central and South Zones, officials alleged that despite repeated reminders, the Indore-based NICT was running behind schedule and was "not submitting" its progress report. The MCD has entered into agreements with these companies to set up the "necessary infrastructure" and impart computer education to students through its trained teachers for next five years.

Insiders said the MCD Education Department was yet to "load" the necessary software on computers for imparting computer education to students of Class III, IV and V. The software has been purchased from the Bhopal-based Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission at an estimated cost of Rs. 14 lakhs. "Unless the software is loaded, how can we teach," asked a teacher of a primary school in South Delhi. The MCD had tied up with it for providing "content and syllabus".The delay in loading the necessary software, insiders said, was mainly due to the "unusual delay" in selection of the educational compact discs (CDs), samples of which were supplied by the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission well in advance and also the delay in payment of the necessary fee.

After much debate the Education Department has selected 28 educational CDs for its primary schools and the requisite payment has been made only now. Insiders attributed the delay in the project not taking off so far to the "not so enthusiastic" response from the new elected Education Committee Chairman, Thakur Dass. "Unlike his predecessor, he is not showing much interest in computer education or reforms in the primary education system of the MCD. This is the reason why we have rescheduled the project," the official said. "With almost half of the academic session being over, it is not going to help the students much this year. Given that majority of the students come form poor social background, they would take some time to familiarise themselves with computers," he added.

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