Kerala government declares total digitalisation of school education

Published : October 12, 2020 17:52 IST

Kerala Government poster on total digitalisation of school education.

Kerala has become the first State in India to provide hi-tech classrooms in all government and aided schools and achieve total digitalisation of school education, the State Government has announced.

A declaration about the successful completion of the ‘High-tech School’ and ‘High-tech Lab’ programmes launched by the State Government as part of its efforts improve the quality of school education was made by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on October 12. “Kerala has now become the first totally digital State in the public education sector in India,” he said.

The programme is set to benefit 41 lakh school students in 16,027 schools that have been provided 3,74,274 digital devices, with 183443 teachers, specially ICT trained, for the purpose. High speed broadband internet connections have also been provided in 12,678 schools, as part of the programmes. The devices have a warranty of five years and insurance cover. A web portal and call centre also have been set up for redressal of complaints.

The programmes have been funded by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and implemented by the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE), an agency under the State General Education Department entrusted with the modernisation of educational institutions.

The achievement has been made possible with Rs 793.50 crore financial assistance sanctioned from the KIIFB, and utilising additional development funds from the Members of Legislative Assembly and local bodies.

Pinarayi Vijayan said that it was no small achievement for a State like Kerala that the project was completed with just Rs 599 crore of the total Rs 793.50 crore assistance sanctioned by the KIIFB, with the rest of the resources for classroom infrastructure development being mobilised locally with amazing competitive spirit by the people, local bodies, people’s representatives and Parent Teacher Associations and alumni associations and several other such agencies. A total of 135.50 crore has been spent as local contribution for this project.

“While all over the world we see governments withdrawing from investing in public facilities, Kerala is proposing an alternative model where government involvement can make the development of public education a special area for people’s participation. This is a model Kerala is putting forth before the world. It is an intervention aimed at our children, and to secure the future of our State. It is also an alternative put forth by the Left,” the Chief Minister said.

He also sought to highlight certain special features of the project. “Only free software has been used in the nearly two lakh laptops provided by the KITE as part of the project. By avoiding proprietary software, the gain has been to the tune of Rs 3000 crore. This is something that has been noticed not just at the national level but internationally as well. It is because of the total adoption of free software that Kerala has been able to provide the most advanced technical support to our students and for teacher training. Now it is up to Kerala’s teaching community to use technology and provide quality education to the students.”

Pointing out that the unique feature of Kerala’s education system has been its inclusive nature Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said however that the COVID-19 lockdown has shown the State that digitalisation can cause divisions. It is in this context that the State government took the initiate to provide the best digital facilities in all government and aided schools. “The Chief Minister has now announced that it that the programme has been fully implemented. Everybody who was part of the Save Public Education campaign can be proud of this achievement, because it was not reduced to programme where the government merely provided the devices in all schools . One can understand the huge public participation in this programme from the fact that the local public contributed nearly 25 per cent of the resources put forth by the Government. This has also become a great encouragement to our efforts to improve quality of curricular and cocurricular academic activities going on in Kerala. It helped improve teacher training and such activities, but more than that, has triggered several new initiatives at the local level for development of study materials, creation of virtual learning centres at the local level with the help of engineering colleges, inter-school broadcasting facilities, and initiative such a Little KITES for encouraging cocurricular activities. These are all major changes. The huge public involvement in welcoming computers into our classrooms has come as a big encouragement to our Public Education programme.”

The Finance Mionister said that the State now needed to take it forward. “All class rooms have become digital. Now we have to provide laptops in all homes; five lakh people have already registered, and we expect at least 10 lakh homes would come forward to utilise an instalment programme offered by the government. By March next year we are planning to provide internet facilities to all homes. Our digitalisation effort will not be confined merely to the area of education but will spread to governance and in the provision of essential services. The declaration made by the Chief Minister today will lead to a lot of connected developments in Kerala,” he said.