The Shiv Sena-ruled civic body’s plan to go digital in schools has not gone down well with other political parties.The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) has awarded a contract to provide 22,799 tabs to Class 8 civic school children and teachers.
The tabs will have 2014 Android software, no WiFi connection and will cost more than the market rates. The tabs will basically be used as ebook readers. Opposition parties are calling it a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. The civic body will be spending Rs 32 crore for the project, through which it aims to upload the entire syllabus on the tab. The civic body hopes it will help decrease the weight of schoolchildren’s bags and decrease dropout rates.
Alleging the BMC is favouring a particular company through this project, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said, “It is one of the biggest scams that will go up to as much as Rs 249 crore in the next few years. The contract has been awarded to a company from an industrial group because of its links with the Shiv Sena. Such illegal practices will not be accepted.” Nirupam also asked the BMC to improve the condition of civic schools first. “Look at the condition of the existing municipal schools. Instead of improving infrastructure and education services, why is the BMC interested in providing tabs to students?”
MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande on Friday also wrote to municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, questioning the quality of the tabs and stating how it would be of no use to students. “Are there no other means to reduce bag weight?” Deshpande wrote in his letter, adding there is no clarity on how this will help improve the quality of education imparted in these schools. “How will the students do their homework in tabs or take notes in the class? With no internet or WiFi connection, how will they transfer data to teachers to correct their exercises?” are some of the questions the MNS leader raised. Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh said, “The software specification includes the Google Android 4.4 operating system. Presently, Google has upgraded version to Android 5 Lollipop in 2014, which means we are buying product that was popular some time ago and this will be used for the next three years. Procurement without any study and planning clearly states a nexus to favour a particular contractor.”