It was obligatory on the part of the state’s bureaucracy to highlight before Yadav that there are other pressing needs in the sector of education and it’s required to prepare an environment that exudes the culture of Information and Communications Technology, and that young boys and girls must get an opportunity to be familiarised with computers and its applications. That would require functional laboratories in every elementary, if not primary, school. A child who has seen the ‘world of miracles’ that a ‘mouse’ or a mere touch of a finger could open up would not like to part with his personal possession so generously given to him/her. The consequences of neglect of this initial readiness are now before everyone. The distributed laptops are already changing hands and there are reports from several places that a considerable number of beneficiaries are keen to sell it for as low as `7,000. Clarifications have flown in from official circles that details of every beneficiary are in the computer and it cannot be sold. This, of course, is as unacceptable as the fact that practical laboratories in high schools and intermediate colleges of Uttar Pradesh are not functional. One has met students who cleared their intermediate examination in first division but never performed a single experiment in any laboratory. It is not a reference to exceptions but to a well-known and socially supported practice, supplemented by malpractices in board exams. It was in Uttar Pradesh that an anti-copying act was passed and implemented. The ‘responsible chief minister’ was unseated and his successor withdrew the provision within an hour of taking oath, as this was one of his pre-poll promises.
One must recall how Kapil Sibal unleashed a huge media blitz by promising widespread distribution of his nominally priced Aakash tablets. He got many accolades, his cronies highlighting his vision and foresight. Sibal has walked away to greener pastures, leaving a legacy that was destined to flounder. Against a commitment of one lakh of Aakash-2, only 20,000 have been supplied so far. Aakash has met the same fate as the promise of full implementation of the RTE Act within three years. Such experiences need to be analysed by Yadav and his advisers. In Uttar Pradesh, the top priority should be to make all schools fully functional with basic amenities to ensure prescribed learner attainments and skill orientation.