Under special drive, Himachal Education Department may give smartphones to needy students


Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 13

The Education Department is contemplating providing cell phones to poor students, who cannot afford smartphones. It plans to launch “donate a mobile campaign” under which NGOs and individuals would be roped in and companies would be urged to fund mobiles under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

Education Minister Govind Thakur, who had a virtual interaction with over 48,383 teachers of 87 per cent schools and parents of 6.8 lakh students, said a small segment of students did not have smartphones while Internet connectivity was also a problem in some remote areas. “We are planning to start a campaign to provide smart phones to poor students,” he said.

Parents are not in favor of opening schools till Covid cases become negligible, he added. As many as 2,93,863 parents submitted their feedback on online learning. About 75 per cent were content with the quality of education imparted through the “Har Ghar Patshala” drive. About 58 per cent parents said online teaching had helped in improving the quality of education during Covid times and should be continued.

As per a rough estimate, about 10 per cent of students of government schools do not have smart phones. There are about 14,000-15,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) students currently studying in Classes X and XII, who would be provided smartphones on priority in the first phase, sources in the Education Department said, maintaining that the final draft proposal was yet to be drawn.

“The Education Department will hold meetings with the BSNL and other telecom service providers to set up towers in places where the Internet facility is not available or the connection is weak, said Director, Higher Education, Amarjeet Sharma.

There are network issues in some parts of Pangi and Bharmour in Chamba, and some areas of tribal Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts, besides a few pockets of Mandi, Kullu and Dodra Kwar areas of Shimla district. We have asked Deputy Directors, Education and principals and headmasters of schools to submit a report in this regard, he added.

Meanwhile, the teachers of government schools have been directed to interact with students through Google meets and other platforms, mark their attendance and evaluate the learning levels by conducting mock tests.

‘Donate a mobile’ campaign

  • It plans to launch ‘Donate a mobile’ campaign under which NGOs and individuals would be roped in and companies would be urged to fund mobiles under the CSR program
  • There are about 14,000-15,000 Below Poverty Line students currently studying in Classes X and XII, who will be provided smartphones on priority in the first phase, said sources, maintaining that the final draft proposal was yet to be drawn



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