College computer education fails to kick off

More than a fortnight has lapsed since none other than the chief minister Virbhadra Singh inaugurated a state of the art computer lab at the RKMV girls college here, but while the infrastructure has been put in place, the college is yet to conduct its first class as no qualified staff has been appointed to run the centre.

The college is among the first in the state to be provided 40 computers with broadband internet services, a multimedia projector, LAN and a server by the department of information technology. Department officials said that the cost of the computer center was about Rs 11 lakhs.

Director education Anita Rao said that the University Grants Commission had permitted add-on courses, which includes computer applications, along with regular curriculum. Regarding staffing she said that these courses are being conducted under self-financing schemes and the teachers are engaged by the college principals from the extra fees collected from students who opt for these add-on courses. “The education department does not provide staff for running these labs,” said Rao. When quizzed about the recently inaugurated computer center not having become functional, she said, “it will become operational within 20 days.”

RKMV College Principal Meera Walia said “though no qualified staff had been appointed but many among the existing teaching staff were computer literate and they would be deployed to run the centre.” She said that the centre has not become functional because the college has a strength of 3500 students and there were only 40 computers. “Chalking out a timetable to adjust classes would take time for the center to get operational,” said Walia.

The government has marked Rs 7.79 crores to equip 26 colleges with computer centers but apathy towards computer education has failed to improve employability of the students. ‘The labs are meant to be used for conducting computer classes as part of regular curriculum for humanities, commerce and science during college hours and also for conducting optional courses like Enhancement of BPO and ITES Skills after college hours,” said a department of information technology official.

The official apathy towards computer education and promoting the IT sector is only amplified by the fact that the government decided to set up an IT park in 2000 and land was earmarked for it. Seven years on, much less than a park having come up, the government has not even selected the entrepreneur with whom it intends to set it up with under a private public partnership (PPP) mode, even though many in the private sector have shown their intend to do so.

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