Science kits, procured in all earnestness by middle schools of East Singhbhum to explain the marvels of the discipline to students, are gathering dust at the headmasters’ chambers.
The sets, comprising a telescope, a skeleton model, a globe and some puzzles, were bought by nearly 256 schools of the district after the state government issued a directive in 2010 to promote scientific learning through practical experience.
Each kit, procured with funds provided by the state, cost around Rs 8,500, bringing the total expenditure of the government to a little more than Rs 21 lakh. But with the sets never being used, sources said the investment could turn out to be a royal waste of money.
“We have never seen a science kit or an apparatus. We just learn science from whatever the teachers tells us in the classroom and appear for exams,” said Mantu Kumar, a Class VIII student of Jugsalai-based Oriya Bangla Madhya Vidyalaya. He added that students were allowed to participate in science practicals from Class IX onwards.
Sahil Kumar of Mahavir Madhya Vidyalaya, however, said they were a tad luckier. “I once saw a globe, along with a few other equipment, at our school. But that was a year ago. Since then, we have not been shown any such equipment, but we do know that there is a locked box that has many interesting things in it,” the Class VIII student said.
Teachers and headmasters of a number of government schools came up with excuses galore— from lack of space to risk of damage — to justify the reason behind keeping the equipment under lock and key.
“We don’t have space to use the kit. Hence, it is kept locked at the headmaster’s room. Besides, there is always the chance of students damaging the equipment in their excitement,” said a teacher of Rajasthan Vidya Mandir Madhya Vidyalaya on the condition of anonymity.
Officials of the district education department, in turn, said they had enquired about the status of the kits a couple of months ago and 187 schools had responded. The rest are yet to submit reports to the district superintendent of education.
“We came to know that the science kits have not been put to use. We asked for a status report on implementation of the state’s directive besides enquiring about quality of the kits and reasons as to why they were not being used. If the schools are found to be apathetic towards using the kits, headmasters and village education committees will be asked to pay the money back to the government,” said East Singhbhum district education officer Sushil Kumar.