The Indian government has approved 88,078 government and government-aided schools to be equipped with ‘smart’ learning solutions and other Information Communication Technology (ICT ) infrastructure under its Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) scheme, Minister of HRD Prakash Javadekar said in a reply to the Lok Sabha. Note that there were more than 1.51 million private and government schools across primary and secondary levels in 2016, as per MHRD data.
The RMSA scheme provides financial assistance to schools for procuring devices, software, PCs, while the government also takes care of recurring and maintenance costs. The scheme covers government and government funded schools, targeting “areas having concentration of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Minority & Weaker Sections.”
When the RSMA scheme was launched, the Centre also instructed State governments and Union Territories to set up 150 additional smart schools. For this purpose, an initial grant of Rs. 25 lakh and a recurring grant of Rs. 2.5 lakh per year is being provided for setting up at least 40 computers in each school. A smart school is a government funded institution which is different from existing government schools that were initially built without any ICT infrastructure in place. Currently, 43 smart schools have been approved under the scheme, Minister Javadekar added in his reply.
Some states defaulted in setting up smart schools
Every year, when the State government prepares its budget proposal to the Centre, it requests a number of government schools to be digested under the RSMA scheme. The Centre examines each State’s proposal and provides a final approval for releasing funds.
Javadekar also pointed out that some states have been defaulting implementation of smart schools, leading to cutbacks in the project. For example, Uttar Pradesh received approval for five smart schools in 2015, but due to non-implementation, all the approvals were canceled in 2017. Interestingly, in the latest 2017-18 budget proposal, states including Daman & Diu, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttrakhand did not request any budget allocation under RSMA scheme. Here is the entire list.
Other smart school projects
Apart from the central government, several state governments have their own digitization projects for schools and institutes. This is done either independently or in collaboration with private educational companies. In July 2016, the Rajasthan government partnered with Educomp Solutions to equip 40 classrooms (of 7 govt schools) with smartclass hardware, digital content, teacher training, etc. Gujarat government also has a similar partnership with Educomp. Currently, Educomp claims to have installed their smartclass system across 14,500 schools in India. Tata Class Edge is another platform similar to Educomp which claims to have a presence in over 1,200 schools.