Computer literacy in Daroh, Himachal



I recently had an opportunity of visiting Senior Secondary school in Daroh, Distt Kangra for a computer project. While conceptualizing this project, one of our friends in the USA, Swadesh had thought of this school as a model school for a computer project and had talked to the Principal Mr Pawan Sharma on phone. Taking lead from him I met the staff of the school and also saw the facilities available. For those who have little idea about Distt Kangra, Daroh is approximately 45 km from Dharamshala and 15 km from Palampur.

This particular school and most of the senior secondary schools in Himachal are covered by an IT project run by the government of Himachal Pradesh. Through this project, computers are being operated by a semi government organization based in Chandigarh. The teachers are appointed by this company. Students are charged Rs 130/- per month irrespective of class. Salary and maintenance expenditure are covered though this fee. Computers can be repaired locally or a request can be sent to the company which maintains 2-3 liaison officers in every district. The teachers are paid a monthly salary of Rs 3000/-.

Syllabus is similar to CBSE board. Class 9 and 10th students study IT tools — MS Office, HTML, Internet etc. and 10th class students also appear for board exam in IT. Class 11th and 12th students are taught basics of Oracle database, SQL, Visual basic programming.

Books are available easily and depending on the publisher, start from Rs 60/- to Rs 220/- . Books are also available in Hindi.

In Daroh school, there are five computers of which four were operational and one was under repair. One printer and a UPS has also been provided. Internet access is available through a dial up connection. Many primary and high schools, which are not supported by HP Govt are funded by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for providing IT education. I must say Sunil Nagpal’s information about penetration of computer education in Himachal is quite relevant.

One hindering factor which came out was the fees of Rs 130/- charged per month for 12 months. This is considered very high in villages and many students don’t take computer education because of this high fee. This fees is even charged for vacation months. So the role for our group is if we can provide computer education at prices starting from Rs 10/- to Rs 50/-.

The principal of this school was very supportive for the project. We discussed various operational issues, which could come up including his transfer from this school. We came to a consensus that one good method to run this project will be that we register a local level society in which the school becomes a member and some local residents also become members and this society takes up the responsibility of running the proposed computer center. Daroh school would provide us with a room to run the project. The computer centre would run independent of the school. Computer education can be extended to students who are not part of the school also. For this purpose, clearance would be taken by the school authorities from the state government.

I have also made it clear to the school authorities that we have few more sites in mind for the project and the decision will be taken not by me but the group members after due deliberations.

I also visited few NGOs in the area. Made it a point to visit the ones with good reputation. PRIA being one. This NGO is a national level organization and in Himachal, it is working on governance issues. I have got few leads from them. One being that Nehru Yuva Kendras are running computer education projects in the state. So we can donate computers to them as the machines will find good usage.

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