IT enabling transformative reforms in Uttar Pradesh’s education system: Dy CM Dr Dinesh Sharma

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dr Dinesh Sharma is also the Minister for Secondary Education and Higher Education, Science and Technology, Electronics and Information Technology, Government of Uttar Pradesh. In an exclusive interaction, Dr Sharma shares how IT is bringing transformative changes in the education sector along with other key citizen centric initiatives

Please brief us about usage of IT to put an end to cheating in the board exams. How have you transformed the education department of Uttar Pradesh in two years?
When the Council of Ministers took the pledge on March 19, 2017, even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that cheating in the board exams was prevalent in Uttar Pradesh and the cheating racket had emerged as a business in the state. It was a huge challenge before us at that time. We used IT to curb cheating practice in the exams and over five lakh students did not turn up to write their exams because of the fear of getting caught by the invigilators.

That apart, we made all exam centres online to monitor their activities and CCTVs with voice recording features were installed in all such centres to keep a hawk’s eye. We also stopped the practice of self centres for board exams and allocated different exam centres to students to ensure they do not get any preferential treatment and exams are conducted in a smooth and fair manner. By using technology, we also reduced number of exam centres from 12,000 to 11,345 in the state. We succeeded in conducting cheating-free exams.

How has technology helped you in bringing about reforms in the education system, what are your key achievements?
There used to be different authors of different school text books due to which there was no uniformity in school syllabus. We also changed the school syllabus and tried to have a syllabus based on the lines of NCERT. It helped us a lot to maintain uniformity of syllabus. This is certainly an achievement of the Govt of Uttar Pradesh. It also helped us to keep the prices of the text books low. Prices of different text books have been published in the education department’s website to maintain transparency. It is a vibrant example of how IT was used as a tool to make students happy.

We have caught only 335 students who were doing cheating in the recently held board exams in the state. You can imagine where 55 lakh students were appearing in the board exams, only a tiny fraction of students were detained for cheating. Its a great achievement for sure.

Has IT helped in addressing the grievances of teachers in UP?
We used to get lots of requests of transfers of teachers who would run from pillar to post to get their work done. It obviously resulted in absence of teachers from the schools which should not have happened.

A lot of their precious time used to be wasted. The Uttar Pradesh government had formed a policy for teachers’ transfers to be done online, in fact through a mobile app. I believe this is the most transparent policy in India for the teachers’ transfers. Whosoever is applying for his/her transfer through this mobile app, he is getting transferred after thorough procedures. There are 10 factors to get a transfer through this mobile app. The highest marks one gets, the higher his/her chances of getting the desired transfer location across Uttar Pradesh. There is no manual intervention at all.

The Uttar Pradesh IT Start-up Policy has created a lot of buzz among investors across the country. Could you please shed some light on the policy and how it envisages to take the state to new heights?
In its bid to encourage innovation and entrepreneur-ship, the state is eyeing to become a ”job creators” state instead of a ”job seekers” state. To provide access to finance exclusively to UP based start-ups, a `1,000 crore Uttar Pradesh Startup Fund is being set up. That apart, we have developed incubators at ace technology institutes like IIT-Kanpur, IIT-BHU, IIM-Lucknow (Noida), KNIT Sultanpur, to inculcate startup culture among young entrepreneurs and innovators. The government has also proposed to establish the country’s biggest incubator in Uttar Pradesh to spur startup revolution in India.

There has been a steady growth in improvement in governance and service delivery with the introduction of single window for all the citizen centric government services under e-District. The government is working hard to digitise services on the lines of Digital India initiative of the Centre. Over 60,000 citizen services centres are delivering G2C/B2C services to citizens. Ushering in digital transpa-rency in procurement process, e-tendering has been implem-ented across all government departments.

The aim is to connect all villages across Uttar Pradesh through optical fibre connectivity under Bharat Net. The state government is aiming to improve the communication and connectivity across the state by leveraging Bharat Net, in addition to National Knowledge Network (NKN) framework. The existing UPSWAN connectivity would be extended to Gram Panchayats through BharatNet.

To reduce red tape and create business-friendly climate, single window clearance mechanism has been instituted at Udyog Bandhu. For guiding and facilitating investors, entrepreneurs and startups under UP IT & Startup Policy, a dedicated policy implementation unit has been set up at UP Electronics Corporation Limited. Some of the best of industry consultants like KPMG has been roped in as the policy implementation unit partner.

Deputy Chief Ministerdigital IndiaDr Dinesh Sharmaegovernancegovernment servicesStartup PolicyUPSWANUttar Pradesh
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