As many as 1,490 secondary schools and colleges in the state do not have electricity connection. Overlooking this fact, the government last year introduced a “compulsory” subject of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for secondary students who are now left to suffer.
Many students have taken up IT in higher secondary classes too, and the government gives grants to schools to buy computers under the ICT scheme, but the machines are useless in the absence of electricity.
According to the 2012-13 statistics provided by the government, among senior secondary schools (Class IX and X) alone, 1,206 do not have an electricity connection. Out of the 1,490 total schools, 211 higher secondary schools (Class XI and XII) and 73 intermediate/junior colleges do not have power. The highest number of schools (116) without electricity was found in Nashik, followed by Ahmednagar (94), Solapur (89) and Latur (86).
The statistics are better in Mumbai and Nagpur, each with just one such school. Pune district has 54 schools that have to do without power.
“The government should think about the infrastructure facility available in schools before introducing any scheme. In this case, without looking at the availability of electricity connection, the ICT subject was introduced. Secondly, it should be the schools’ responsibility to get an electricity connection,” said Sarjerav Jadhav, Director, Secondary Education, and former acting chairman of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.
In the academic year 2012-13, ICT was made a compulsory subject for Class IX. This year, it was made mandatory for Class X too.
“There is a Supreme Court judgment that makes it mandatory for the schools to have light and fan during exams. So they (the schools) sometimes use inverters. During examinations, we have identified nearby centres where there is electricity and the students go there to write their exams. This year onwards, Class XII students have to fill examination forms online. All practicals in subjects like biology, physics and chemistry need electricity. Hence, things are very tough for students studying in schools without electricity,” said a board official who did not wish to be named.