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Taking Edu to All Nooks and Crannies with Tech

State to take a leaf out of Andhra book to ensure unserved areas get access to quality education; employ GIS technology to map location of schools and open new ones

Published: 18th March 2016 04:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th March 2016 04:34 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu will soon follow in the footsteps of Andhra in adopting an innovative and interactive school mapping system using GIS technology to map location of State-run schools so that the government can establish new schools only in unserved areas.

During the initial phase of this project to kick-start soon, the Tamil Nadu School Education department will be carrying out a GPS survey of the existing schools which would later be integrated into a base satellite imagery. The final data would be made available to educational planners in the State and based on this, new schooling facilities would be established in unserved areas.

The RTE Act, 2009 has mandated every State government to establish at least one primary school in every one-km radius and one school for children in classes VI to XIII in three-km radius by 2014 (three years from implementation.)

The State wings of two Centrally sponsored schemes - Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) - were assigned the task of improving access through opening new schools, developing infrastructure of existing State-run schools.

In Tamil Nadu, under the SSA, 677 new elementary and middle schools and the RMSA had completed construction of 101 new secondary and senior secondary schools. SSA officials said that in an attempt to monitor whether the State has achieved the target of establishing schools within such limits, the Centre had instructed the SSA and RMSA to adopt a multidimensional approach to ensure access to educational facilities.

“Since manual mapping of schools was strenuous, time-consuming and inconsistent, the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh had used Geographical Information System (GIS) to map existing schools based on the Education Ministry’s guideline,” sources added.

Confirming this, an official from the Tamil Nadu School Education Department said that a meeting was held recently with officials from Andhra regarding challenges they faced in adopting GIS technology while mapping schools in rough terrain.

As a first step, a survey would be carried using Global Positioning System (GPS) to capture the spatial distribution (latitude and longitude) of all existing schools.

“After this, schools would be plotted on a base map which would later be digitised,” the official added. The base map would be prepared well in advance using GIS and would show important landmarks including roads, rivers along with radius of the schools

SSA sources said that a unique code would be provided to every school in the map and these codes would be linked to spatial data about the school.

Sources added that following codification and linking, integration of available non-spatial data would be undertaken and this information as per Centre’s mandate would be used for developing educational planning

The integrated GIS maps would be made available to educational planners in which they would be allowed to generate online query in terms of availability of education facility in the area and un-served areas along with future requirement.

According to the senior Education Department official, the system would provide reply with required information along with a graphic display that can help in bridging the gaps in even existing schools and prevent mushrooming of facilities within the same area.

Rte saga

2009: The RTE Act was enacted by Parliament

2011: TN RTE Rules passed

2011 to 2014: No new elementary and primary school opened in TN by SSA

2014-15: 170 new schools opened by SSA

2015-16: RMSA completes construction of 101 new schools

2016 March: SSA and RMSA to begin monitoring progress by mapping schools

How it’ll be done

Step 1: GPS survey of schools

Step 2: Plotting data over base map

Step 3: Unique codes for all schools

Step 4: Integration using GIS

Step 5: New schools to be opened at hitherto unserved locations

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