Brushing aside strong opposition, the Shiv Sena–BJP dominated standing committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday cleared a proposal to provide tablets free of cost to Class 8 students in Mumbai civic schools.
Under the Rs 32-crore project, 22,799 tablets will be distributed to students over the next two years. The contract for it is to be awarded to M/s Techno Electronics Ltd.
While the Sena is trying to score political brownie points ahead of the Mumbai civic polls, the scheme is likely to kick up a controversy, with opposition parties questioning why the tablet, with its limited functions, is being bought at a price of Rs 7,000 each, when cheaper devices are available.
The tabs will be provided to Class 8 students and teachers, to be used till Class 10. An insurance claim and a two-year warranty period will also be given for each tab.
However, the Opposition has raised questions on the efficiency of the tablet, as it is a mere e-book reader with no internet access and no scope for an interactive learning experience. Corporators have claimed similar devices with internet access and other functions are available for around Rs 5,000.
“A better tablet with wifi, 3G, camera and E-book reader apps are available in the market at Rs 5,000 per piece. Also, such projects must be first tested on a trial basis in a few schools, to check the response from students and teachers,” said Maharashtra Navnirma Sena group leader Sandeep Deshpande.
Corporators also argued the BMC should first think of improving the basic infrastructure of civic schools
“At a time when basic necessities in civic schools are absent, what is the need to spend Rs 32 crore on tabs? These tablets have an older version of operating systems, which will get even more outdated by next year,” said Rais Shaikh,S amajwadi Party corporator.
However, the Sena batted for its leader’s programme. Leader of the house and Shiv Sena corporator Trushna Vishwasrao said a good project is being unnecessarily opposed.
“In this digitally advancing era, it is important that civic school students also get the opportunity to learn new technology. Providing tabs is the best solution to lighten school bags, too. We are trying to give the best through this,” she said.