With a twin purpose of overhauling the education in government schools in Gujarat and tackling the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) attacks on the State government for poor quality of education, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched the ambitious ‘Mission Schools of Excellence’ project in Gandhinagar.
Conceived with an outlay of ₹10,000 crore, the Mission, partially funded by the World Bank, is aimed at strengthening the education infrastructure in the State through setting up of new classrooms, smart classrooms, computer labs and overall upgradation of infrastructure in schools.
Under its first phase, school infrastructure projects worth over ₹5,567 crore will be undertaken. The project will see setting up of 50,000 classrooms in addition to 1.5 lakh smart classrooms, 20,000 computer laboratories and 5,000 Atal Tinkering labs in government schools.
Wednesday’s was the second major event on education that the Prime Minister has attended this year in his home State ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections. AAP, the new political entrant in the State, has been attacking the State government over quality of government school infrastructure and education in the State.
Earlier, Mr. Modi had inaugurated a School Monitoring Centre in Gandhinagar and asked all States to set up such state-of-the-art centres that will help enhance quality of education in schools.
The launch of the project comes in the wake of AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal deploying his deputy Manish Sisodia to visit Gujarat and juxtapose the quality of education in government-run schools in the two States.
Mr. Sisodia, during his visits to a few government-run schools in rural areas in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, had live-streamed the poor quality of infrastructure in schools and lack of enough teachers. He had also invited the Gujarat Education Minister to visit schools in Delhi to see how smart classrooms function there.
With the latest event, the Prime Minister appears to take it upon himself to counter the AAP and challenge its narrative on education and schools in Gujarat. The Prime Minister, in his speech on Wednesday, talked about the initiatives that were implemented in the State during his tenure as Chief Minister to improve standards of education, dropout ratio and overall quality of schools. He, however, did not mention about the AAP.
“In the last two decades, almost two lakh teachers have been recruited and 1.5 lakh classrooms were built,” Mr. Modi said. He recalled that after he became Chief Minister, he had gone to villages, held the hands of children and took them to schools to improve enrolment.
Mr. Modi added that the Gunotsav programme was launched during his tenure through which the aptitudes, skills and abilities of students were evaluated and proper solutions were suggested to improve the quality of education in villages. He was also vocal of the ushering in of technology in government schools while pointing out that more than one crore students and 4 lakh teachers register their attendance online in the State now as the schools have been equipped with internet and smart tablets.
The Prime Minister contended that the recently launched 5G services will completely change the education system in the country. “It will take the education system beyond smart facilities, smart classrooms and smart teachings and take it to the next level. Our students will be able to experience the power of virtual reality and Internet of Things in schools. Through the ‘Mission Schools of Excellence’, Gujarat has taken the first and most significant step in the country.”