PUNJAB DIGITALISING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

THE PROVINCIAL GOVT HAS ESTABLISHED COMPUTER LABS IN 4286 SCHOOLS.

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Apr 12 - 18, 2010

With the initiation of process of establishing computer labs in public schools across the province of Punjab, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led coalition government in Punjab has taken a lead in computer technology from other provinces.

In the first phase, the Punjab government has established computer labs in 4286 schools each equipped with 15 seats comprising three desktops personal computers and 12NComputing virtual desktops that are imparting training to over three million students every year. The provincial government has planned to make every student fully computer literate.

Educationists and IT experts told Page that introduction of computer labs in the government schools will have a contagious impact. It will force the low-end private schools to establish at least similar if not superior computer labs.

According to them, the introduction of computer knowledge among the children will increase the internet use in the country and explore the unexplored talent of millions who have remained deprived of this modern technology.

It may be noted that the idea of computer labs in public schools was conceived last year by the Punjab government and the budgetary allocations were made in the provincial budget for 2009-10.

The original idea was to procure 15 desktop PCs for each school. However, the government due to leadership qualities of the then Additional Chief Secretary and sitting Chairman P&D Javaid Alsam was able to save Rs1.8 billion from its budgeted allocation by adopting the NComputing technology. The NComputing solution includes both the virtualisation software (vSpace) that creates the "virtual" sessions inside a PC or server, and the thin-client devices that connect the user's monitor, keyboard and mouse to the shared computer. Thus one desktop PC can be connected with 4-10 virtual desktops. Instead of buying 64290 desktop PCs, the government procured 12858 PCs and supplemented the balance 51432 seats with NComputing devices.

Experts are convinced that the Punjab government's IT Labs project can change the computing environment, especially in emerging economies like Pakistan. The decision to deploy this IT labs project establishes the Punjab government as an innovator in educational computing in Pakistan and a model for other governments, considering similar projects. This project has been successful due to the key factor that the Punjab government is determined to provide maximum number of computer seats at a minimum cost. Through this IT Labs project the Punjab government will save nearly Rs1.8 billion in up-front and Rs10 million per month in ongoing costs. The cost will be saved on energy consumption that 64290 desktop PCs will consume. One desktop PC consumes 100 watts of electricity per hour. A virtual desktop installed through NComputing device will consume only 10 watts of electricity per hour that will translate into saving of Rs10 million per month at current electricity rates or Rs 360 million in three years.

NComputing's desktop virtualisation technology has now become a part of the lives of millions people across the world.

In Pakistan only few highly expensive schools provide each student with a separate computer desk. The Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is doing wonders in the province of Punjab through innovative ideas and commitment with doing some thing for the country as well as its people by laying strong foundations for a real and positive change in the society. His special focus on the education sector is extremely commendable.

Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has offered 5000 scholarships to the deserving pupils, regardless of their gender and he has allocated more scholarships to the remote areas, so that students from those areas get opportunities they are always denied. Likewise, he has given cash rewards to the position holders.

According to Punjab Chief Minister, revolutionary measures are required for the improvement of ruined educational system. Teachers should equip the builders of the nation with education for the bright future of the country by raising above groupings and government will solve all their problems.

Apart from providing basic amenities in the schools, the Punjab Chief Minister intends to provide transport facility to the students particularly those living in rural and remote areas of the province. For him, teachers' training is of paramount importance for the promotion of quality education in the province, which was neglected in the past. It was for the first time in the history of the province that 34000 educators were recruited purely on merit. The government has planned to give an amount of Rs50000 each as prize and five Marla residential plots would be given to 1000 teachers for taking interest in results, attendance, enrollment, community participation and educational facilities as well as funds.

The Punjab government is determined to make examination system complete transparent by purging it of Booti Mafia.