The Jammu and Kashmir government has struck upon an out-of-this-world solution to identify villages and remote hamlets that don't have access to a government school.
The state government has decided to use satellite imagery to identify remote hamlets where no schools have been set up so far.
The state's remote-sensing department has been tasked to map the existing primary, middle and higher secondary schools in the state using a “geographic information system”. The geo-maps produced will be compared with another map that would have the number of schools required to be set up, thus helping the government find the deficiency in numbers.
The move is expected to yield quick results - in less than two months - especially as 80% of the population in the state lives in villages spread over diverse and hostile geographic locations. Deputy chief minister and school education minister Tara Chand said this would help level out the existing inequalities in the distribution of education infrastructure in the state.
It is hoped that the move would help reduce the gap between the literacy rates in rural and urban areas of the state. While the urban areas have a literacy rate of 68.7%, it is 53.6% in rural areas. Compared to the national literacy rate of 74.04%, the state continues to lag behind when it comes to education.
Project deputy director (planning) Mohammad Ashraf said the maps will be compared with the minimum parameters set by government. “For example, the government decides to establish a primary school at a place with a population of 300. If the nearest primary school is a kilometre away, the government will upgrade the existing school to a middle school. A middle school will be upgraded to a high or higher secondary school if the next school is at a distance of 5 to 7 kilometres.”
Tara Chand said the project is expected to be completed within two months. “All details will be made available on the web-based maps,” he said. The project would be linked with Google Maps to help locate the schools easily.