DPS to Ryan, govt funds for labs
New Delhi: The Niti Aayog has decided to fund advanced science laboratories at 2,400-odd select schools, including dozens run by a Sangh parivar affiliate or by high-end private chains such as DPS, Ryan International and Amity International.
A large number of state government schools too figure in the list, drawn up from among applicants on the basis of certain criteria and annou nced by the government's policy think-tank last month. ( See chart)
Under the Atal Tinkering Laboratories programme, each selected school will receive up to Rs 10 lakh to buy laboratory equipment and another Rs 10 lakh to maintain the facility over the next five years. Schools can use the funds to set up new labs or enhance their existing ones.
Birendra Nayak, a former mathematics teacher with Utkal University, asked why expensive private schools should seek, or receive, the assistance. "These schools charge more than Rs 5,000 a month as tuition fee apart from a separate (annual) development fee. They should not be given government grants unless they cross-subsidise students," he said.
Among the private schools on the list are Mount Carmel, Venkateswara International, Doon Public School, Springdales, ITL, Salwan and Tagore International School (Delhi); Modern High School for Girls, Salt Lake School and Sri Sri Academy (Calcutta); St Xavier's High School (Mumbai); Sai International School (Bhubaneswar); Surya Public School (Lucknow) and Apeejay School (Noida).
The list includes 69 Saraswati Sishu Mandirs and Vidya Mandirs, run by Sangh affiliate Vidya Bharati. Officials said this would be the first time these schools would receive any sizeable grant from the government. The scheme allows the schools to buy equipment such as do-it-yourself kits and 3D printers.
All secondary schools are eligible for the grant provided they have at least 1,500sqft of built-up space for the lab (if located in the plains).
A school picked for the scheme is expected to spread awareness about - in other words, advertise - the innovative activities at its advanced lab in the locality. It's not clear if the schools are prohibited from raising fees by citing the lab.
The schools are expected to share the lab with neighbourhood schools and children.
A teacher at a Delhi government school wondered how the labs would deliver at government schools, which face huge vacancies for science teachers. A Niti Aayog official said the beneficiary schools would need to appoint enough teachers to manage the labs. No such commitment was part of the selection criteria.