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Rs 8-lakh grant for state-run schools
- Money to be spent on upgrading labs and boosting Net facilities

The government has sanctioned funds to upgrade laboratories in the 44 state-run schools in anticipation of an increase in the number of students following the launch of English-medium wings at the Higher Secondary level and changes in the science syllabuses.

Each of the schools has got Rs 6 lakh for modernising their physics, chemistry and biology laboratories and another Rs 2 lakh for improving computer and Internet facilities.

“The grant of Rs 6 lakh will be used exclusively for upgrading laboratories to cope with the pressure of students joining the new English-medium units and also to ensure that the students are offered quality practical training in science,” said a senior official in the school education department.

“The Rs 2 lakh grant will be used to buy computers, printers, laptops and improving Internet facilities.”

The rising number of students apart, the laboratories need to be upgraded because of the change in the science syllabuses. “The Higher Secondary syllabuses in physics, chemistry, biology and math have been overhauled to establish a parity with the CBSE and ISC curricula. The science laboratories need to be modernised to impart proper practical training to the students following the new the HS syllabuses,” said Pradip Kumar Bose, the headmaster of Hindu School.

Over the past several years, bright students of state-run schools used to switch to private English-medium institutions after Madhyamik in the hope that studying Plus-II in English would help them crack competitive exams.

The exodus was also because many students felt that the laboratory facilities at private schools were better than the state-run ones.

The erstwhile Left Front government, which had abolished teaching of English till Class VI in the early 1980s, gave permission to the state-run schools to start English-medium science units at the HS level in 2008.

But in the absence of adequate facilities, only 11 schools have so far started English-medium units.

Ballygunge Government School, Bethune Collegiate School, Sakhawat Memorial Government Girls’ High School, Barasat Government School and Barrackpore Government High School are some of the state-run institutions that are running English-medium units for science students at the Plus-II level.

Most of the other schools, including Hindu and Hare, failed to open the English-medium units for not having proper laboratories and other infrastructure.

Noticing the great demand among students to study the HS course in English, particularly among those who want to study engineering or medical science, the Trinamul government recently issued a circular asking the heads of the state-run schools that are yet to open English-medium units at the HS level to do so from the upcoming academic session.

“But we realised that the schools cannot open the units without proper laboratories and computer facilities. That’s why the government has decided to allot Rs 8 lakh to each of the 44 state-run schools,” an education department official said.

“Some schools have huge space in their compounds, still they cannot open the units as attracting students to the Plus-II level in science would be difficult in the absence of proper laboratories,” the official said.

The government has also started the process to recruit 148 teachers for the 44 state-run schools for the new HS units.