The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, the UN co-organised largest annual gathering of the information and communication technology (ICT) community for development, chose the Bengal government’s Sabooj Sathi scheme — an environment-friendly education outreach plan — among its winners on September 7.
For the second consecutive year, another Bengal project — Utkarsh Bangla, an integrated skill development programme that attempts to make 6 lakh youths industry-ready every year — also made it to the ‘Champions’ list.
The Sabooj Sathi scheme has provided nearly 10 million bicycles to students of Classes IX-XII in the past four years, increased high school enrolment by 12% and ensured marked increase in girl students appearing for secondary and higher secondary exams.
Backward classes welfare secretary Sanjay Thade, in his award acceptance speech, said the scheme conceptualised, designed and inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in October 2015 attempted to help students of around 12,000 upper primary (till Class VIII) schools in Bengal to continue higher studies. It is also aimed at boosting confidence of girl students and promoting eco-friendly means of transportation, he said.
A survey by Pratichi Trust, founded by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, has found that in the past four years, the cycles have also increased “general mobility” of rural students, besides pushing up school enrolment. According to state government sources, the category in which Sabooj Sathi was declared a winner had 800 applications from across the globe. The winner’s citation dubs this project as ‘Wheels of Change’.
The category in which Utkarsh Bangla made it to the top-five champions also had 800 applications. The project, according to the Bengal government presentation, has provided skill training to a million candidates. It is now capturing 120,000 biometric attendance daily and is operating close to 332 courses, spread across geographies.
“Kudos to chief minister Mamata Banerjee for leading the way in making Bengal more empowered, strong and proud,” wrote education minister Partha Chatterjee.