Monday, August 30, 2010

Rs 28,000cr Games expense sounds like wrong priority: Premji

Rs 28,000cr Games expense sounds like wrong priority: Premji
Azim Premji, Aug 26, 2010, 12.17am IST

Recently, the central government disclosed that its total spend on the Delhi Commonwealth Games is likely to be Rs 11,494 crore. This number is disconcerting for two reasons. One, because it is an order-of-magnitude away from its original estimate of Rs 655 crore. Two, because the real cost of the games will be much higher if we were to include:

*Rs 16,560 crore additionally spent by Delhi government on upgrading the capital's infrastructure — a new airport terminal, wider roads, new flyovers, Metro rail extensions, and so on;

*Real cost of labour — labourers got sub-minimum wages, worked in unsafe conditions, and were housed in sub-human tenements;

*The human cost of driving the poor out of streets and out of sight.

The term 'commonwealth' originally meant public welfare, things that are for the greater good of society. Do the Commonwealth Games pass this commonwealth test? Is this Rs 28,000-crore drain on public funds for the greater common good?

Before I respond to the question, let me clarify my position on the Games themselves. The desire to celebrate runs deep in our collective psyche. The teachings of a spiritual master, the creation of a nation, the birth of a child — celebrating each of them is important because they are our cultural compass; they remind us of things we value most. There are few things as uplifting as watching a sportsperson push physical and mental limits to achieve the incredible. The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympics, are a celebration of the human spirit of excellence. Therefore, in itself, the Games are a worthy endeavour.

However, given the thousands of crores being spent on the Delhi Commonwealth Games, we need to ask if this is money spent wisely. As a country, we are constantly forced to compromise on funds. For instance, India needs more schools, and the existing schools need better infrastructure and more teachers. This will require us to spend 6% of our GDP on education, but we manage just over half that figure. Similarly, the country has very little sports infrastructure on the ground. To encourage sports, our first step has to be to ensure children get access to playgrounds, good equipment and quality coaching. To not have this, and to instead spend on a grand sporting spectacle sounds like we have got our priorities wrong.

Despite the wonderful economic strides of the past two decades, the reality is that India is a poor country. A recent study by the University of Oxford measured levels of education, health and living standard in the world's poorest countries. This study shows that India continues to be predominantly poor. In fact, there are more poor people in eight Indian states than in the 26 poorest African countries combined. Delhi has amongst the lowest occurrences of poverty in India, while at the other extreme, 81% of Bihar's population is poor. No surprise then that many of the 100,000 labourers who worked for unfair wages to prepare Delhi for the Commonwealth Games were from Bihar.

The capital already boasts of some of India's best infrastructure. Instead of spending crores to widen Delhi's roads, should we not prioritize building roads and schools in Bihar where none exist in the first place? If we have Rs 500 crore to spare, should we use it to build basic sports facilities in thousands of government schools, or should we spend it all on renovating one stadium?

In real terms, such choices are not all that easy to make. For instance, it is important for our cities to have great infrastructure, and money spent on a metropolis like Delhi will in turn catalyse our national economy. Our leaders have to constantly juggle and prioritize among many equally deserving needs, and it is not as if they are uninformed or wrongly intentioned. Over the last decade, the Indian government has taken important strides in social welfare and inclusive development. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are but two examples. However, it is not enough to have specific schemes such as the NREGA. Rather, equity and inclusion considerations must underlie each and every policy decision. Let me suggest that all public policy must recognize that GDP growth is meaningless if it does not uplift the most underprivileged of our country.

How can we forget that for Rs 28,000 crore we could have established primary schools and health centres in tens of thousands of villages? Can we ignore this splurge the next time a malnourished child looks at us in the eye?

At times like these, it will serve our leaders well to recall Gandhiji's talisman: "Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?"

Premji is chairman of Wipro.

Himachal allocates 17 percent budget on education, says Dhumal

Himachal allocates 17 percent budget on education, says Dhumal

Bijender Sharma
Sunday, 29 August 2010
SHIMLA: State Government has earmarked 17 percent of its budget on education and allied activities during current financial year besides bringing about qualitative improvement in the prevailing education system.
This was revealed by Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister while presiding over the concluding function of two-day conclave on Quality Education in Himachal Pradesh and Directions organized by local NGO Ashadeep.

Chief Minister said that education was on priority agenda of the State Government and its achievement in this vital sector had been adjudged in a nation wide survey conducted by a prestigious agency. He said that Central Government should finance the educational schemes as some States had not resources to implement the central formula.

Prof. Dhumal underlined the need for bringing a qualitative improvement in education system so as to achieve better results. He said that in Himachal Pradesh, 17 percent students goes to college as compared to 11 at National-level which was the highest in the country. He said that the attitudinal assessment of the students was must before forcing any higher education courses upon them. He underlined the need for committed teachers who were dedicated and capable of giving new dimension to education.

Chief Minister also stressed for introspection by teaching fraternity whether the present system was delivering the goods in the desired prospective. He said that infrastructure facilities at school level in the State had been improved but had not shown the results proportionally.

He said that with best education, best benefits needed to be accrued. He appreciated the approach of some educated youth who had opted for diversified farming activities which was yielding them good returns. He said that such people were emerging role model to rest of the youth and was going a long way in motivating them to go for self-employment avocation.
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Chief Minister appreciated the organizing of seminar by Ashadeep and said that out come of the seminar would be examined at the Government and implemented after doing the needful .

Prof. B.S. Dohia, former Vice-Chancellor Kurukashetra University in his key-note address said that the entire education system was based on central policies, States mode of implementation. He said that adequate and infrastructure was needed to develop Himachal Pradesh as a centre of excellence. He said that ground realities needed to be taken into consideration while framing education policy. He said that the student participation in classroom would enhance their internal caliber.

Prof Lokesh Kaul, former Dean of Studies, Himachal Pradesh University said that quality education objective needed to be understood in relation to geographical condition, culture, traditions and customs of the society. He advocated community need based education system. He appreciated the initiative being taken by State Government towards reforming education system. He said that community knowledge should be linked with formal education.

State to fund education of debt-ridden farmers' children

State to fund education of debt-ridden farmers' children
Press Trust Of India

The state government has decided to fund educational expenses of children from more than four lakh farmers' families facing financial troubles, in six Vidarbha districts. "With a view to encourage the children of farmers to complete their education, the government has sanctioned Rs 14.18 crore for
their educational expenses by choosing 4.34 lakh families in Vidarbha who are facing an extreme financial crisis," said a senior official from School Education Department.

Students from Classes 1 to 12 from Amaravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Buldhana, Washim and Wardha districts will get a complete fee waiver and Rs 500 every year to buy textbooks and other material apart from scholarships, the official said.

The initiative has been taken after the Narendra Jadhav panel appointed by the government in 2007 to probe the farmers' suicides, recommended to provide educational facilities to the children of the farmers in suicide-prone areas.

"Based on the recommendation, a survey was carried out by the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission in Vidarbha which found that 8.89 lakh farmers were debt ridden. Of these, 4.34 lakh were in extreme financial crisis," he said.

The government decided to provide educational help to their children and approved a proposal in this regard in December 2008. However the funds have been sanctioned this year, he added.

“State accounts for 1 out of 4 educational loans”

“State accounts for 1 out of 4 educational loans”

Staff Reporter

KARAIKUDI: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Sunday said that Tamil Nadu accounted for one out of every four education loans given in the country. Of the nearly 20 lakh education loans given in the country, the State alone accounted for 5.63 lakh. Even States bigger than Tamil Nadu had lower loan rates, he said.

He was addressing an educational loan campaign organised here on Sunday by the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), convener for District Consultative Committee of Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts.

The Minister noted that the parents of 70 per cent of the loan beneficiaries at this camp were casual labourers while many others were car drivers and peons.

This showed that the education loan scheme of the Central government was greatly benefiting those from economically backward sections.

He said that the interest waiver scheme announced recently would cover the education loans taken since 2009-10. Even if the interest had been collected inadvertently, the bank would offset it against later payments. To lodge any complaint, parents can approach Canara Bank, the nodal agency to implement the scheme nationwide.

Educational loan of Rs.10.41 crore was distributed to 643 students during the campaign, in which public sector banks in Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts had put up stalls.

Survey paints shoddy picture of govt’s elementary education initiative

Survey paints shoddy picture of govt’s elementary education initiative
Only 45% of schools received grants in full in 2008-09, while 51% schools didn’t have proper toilets: survey
Prashant K. Nanda, prashant.n@livemint.com

More than half the schools that receive funds under the government’s flagship scheme to improve and universalize primary education don’t have toilets, and 27% that received grants to build classrooms haven’t constructed any, says a nationwide survey.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), launched almost a decade ago, is failing due to mismanagement and delays in the flow of money to schools, says the “Do Schools Get Their Money?” survey that covered 14,500 schools.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal told Parliament on 20 August that utilization of funds under SSA is satisfactory.

But only 45% schools reported receiving the grants in full during 2008-09, says the survey by civil rights groups Accountability Initiative and Pratham, and National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP).

While 35% of the schools reported receiving partial grants, 20% said they received no grants at all.

Schools get SSA grants under four categories—new classroom grant, school maintenance grant (SMG), school development grant (SDG) and teachers learning material (TLM) grant.

Each school is entitled to receive `2 lakh for building new classrooms, while the maintenance grant is an annual `10,000 for schools that have more than three classrooms.

Money often does not reach schools in time, says the survey. More than 40% of schools said they get funds only in the second half of the fiscal. Mismanagement occurs as they are under pressure to utilize the money in two quarters, or sometimes just one quarter.

“At least 27% schools that reported receiving classroom grants had not built a new classroom, and 51% schools that reported receiving SMG and SDG did not have usable toilets, while 21% schools don’t have working handpumps,” the report found.

Launched in 2001 by the National Democratic Alliance government, SSA caters to at least 220 million schoolchildren. It is being merged with the Right to Education Act of the United Progressive Alliance government, which came into force on 1 April.

The government released `12,781 crore to the states in 2009-10. The amount was `12,604 crore in 2008-09 and `11,426 crore in 2007-08.

“In terms of physical infrastructure such as toilets, drinking water and civil works, the outcome from the public expenditure on elementary education are far from ideal,” said Yamini Aiyar, director of the Accountability Initiative and one of the principal authors of the report.

On the positive side, at least 80% of classrooms have a blackboard, some form of charts, posters and other educational materials.

M. Govinda Rao, director, NIPFP, said the survey will help identify the sources of inefficiency and leakages in SSA.

Farida Lambe, an educationist, said Central government policies are well-intentioned, but implementation and monitoring remains a problem.

SSA has helped build at least one million new classrooms by the end of the 2009-10 fiscal. One million teachers have also been appointed through SSA funds, said a senior HRD ministry official, requesting anonymity.

“The monitoring has some problem, but with RTE Act coming into effect the situation will better further,” said the official.

India Gets $9.3 Billion World Bank Lending in 2009-10

India Gets $9.3 Billion World Bank Lending in 2009-10
29 August, 2010 11:52:00 Adams - Baker
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image India Gets $9.3 Billion World Bank Lending in 2009-10

New York (ABC Live): India with its $1.2 trillion economy has got $9.3 billion lending from World Bank in fiscal year 2009-10.

New York (ABC Live): India with its $1.2 trillion economy has got $9.3 billion lending from World Bank in fiscal year 2009-10.

As per World report, India was given $9.3 billion; of this, $2.6 billion came as interest free credits from IDA (the International Development Association) and $6.7 billion was in the form of long-term, low-interest loans from IBRD (the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

The increased lending to India is the result of several forces at work. One is the guidance from the G 20 during its November 2008 summit when it directed the international financial institutions to step up their financial support to emerging economies.

The Bank stepped up to the challenge and has made global commitments of $120 billion since July 2008. The increased lending to India thus forms part of a global trend.

Another factor relates to the huge demands of India’s fast-growing economy which needs sustained growth of 8-10% to lift some 400 million people out of poverty.

The Government of India (GOI) estimates that it will need $500 million for building infrastructure alone during the current five year plan.

The Government of India’s (GOI) priorities laid out in the Five Year Plans and reflected in the Bank’s Country Strategies for India.

Following are the ongoing World Bank projects in India:

* 19 million out-of-school children have been enrolled in elementary school under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
* 12 million people in the villages of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttarakhand now have clean and reliable drinking water.
* Clean drinking water supply 24 hours a day, seven days a week is now available in parts of three water-stressed cities of North Karnataka (Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum and Gulbarga).
* More than 20,000 km of rural roads have been constructed in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Major bridges have been constructed in Assam, as well as foot bridges and tracks in the hill states.
* Five Bank loans have helped Powergrid build 75,000 circuit kms of transmission lines that can carry power from energy-surplus regions to underserved areas. The Bank’s 15-year partnership with Powergrid has helped the utility transform into a global-level entity with world class engineering, power planning and implementations systems and one of the largest electricity transmission operators in the world.
* Millions of villagers in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh have increased their incomes through community efforts and self-help groups. In Andhra Pradesh alone, some 10 million people, mostly women, have formed nearly 850,000 self-help groups, which have generated savings of over $805 million. Funds have been used to set up small enterprises and provide better schooling, nutrition and healthcare to their children

Not possible to train teachers in five years for RTE programme: Minister

Not possible to train teachers in five years for RTE programme: Minister
Posted by support on August 29, 2010 in Headlines, Latest News, News | 0 Comment

IMPHAL, Aug 28: The 32nd State Level Students Science Seminar, 2010 on the topic “India and World Science: Are we there?” was held at the Gandhi Memorial Hall in Imphal today. The seminar was organized by the Department of Education (S), Government of Manipur.

Speaking on the occasion chief guest L Jayantakumar said that it was very necessary for the students today to know every aspect of science. A united stand was expected of the guardians, teachers and parents in today’s competitive world, he said while adding that the Right to Education Bill had been passed in the Parliament in August 2009 and it was required that the teachers are trained within five years to give quality education. However, in Manipur the training to the teachers was to take around 10 years and at the moment it is not possible to train the teachers within five years, he mentioned.

The minister also revealed that Tele-education would be launched for the first time in Manipur on August 30 at the TG Higher Secondary School. He assured that education was a common property for all the citizens of the state and it was not the privilege of only certain individuals.

The government schools in the state were way behind in their education and this was known to the government and it needs the cooperation of the teachers, students and everyone else interested to bring the educational standards up to the required level, he said. Lack of education had instilled a fear and restlessness in the minds of the people of the state and the violence perpetrated by the armed groups including the police was only due to the lack of education in the state, he averred while also observing that it was time to educate the students properly with the joint effort of all concerned.

The keynote address of the evening session was given by L Viramani Singh, the Science Promotion Officer of the Directorate of Education (S) in which the speaker stated that the seminar was being held every year since 1978 with 26 students from all the districts participating in the seminar. However, this year only 20 had taken part, he added.

The seminar was held in two sessions with the seminar being held in the morning session and the prize distribution being held in the afternoon session. Prof Ak Manihar Singh of the Department of Chemistry, Manipur University presided over the first session in which the seminar was held. Minister of Education (S) L Jayentakumar Singh was the chief guest in the evening session, while Prof Ak Manihar Singh was the guest of honor and Director of Education (S) T Ranjit Singh was the president of the evening session.

In the meantime, a student of the Sainik School Imphal named Th Parishek Singh was chosen today to represent the state in the National Students Science Seminar to be held at Bangalore on October 8. Parishek took the first position in the seminar today and received a cash prize of Rs. 7000 for his showing. Fifteen students got the consolation prize of Rs. 1000 each while four merit prizes worth Rs. 2000 each went to four other students.

Success schools find going tough

Success schools find going tough
August 29th, 2010

Warangal, Aug. 28: The state government had set up 271 Success schools in 2008, at least one in every five square kms of the district to provide English medium education to Telugu medium students studying in governmental schools in rural areas.
However, teacher unions point out that Success school, which provides English education from Class VI onwards, is actually a failure as Telugu medium-trained government teachers are finding it difficult to teach in English.
The education department had also conducted orientation classes to upgrade skills of 2,700 teachers of Success schools in the district, but sources said the efforts are going waste as they are made to teach both media students at one place.
“Right now, there is no separate campus nor are the classrooms of English and Telugu media are separated. As a result, whatever is taught to English medium students make no difference to them,” said Mr M. Sekhar, member, United Teachers Federation, Warangal.
“Every year, separate classrooms are also needed as students progress to another class but are forced to sit under trees in many schools,” he added.
Sources said teachers in Success schools see their teaching work as an additional burden, as despite putting up efforts to teach the students in English medium, their salaries remain on par with Telugu medium teachers.
For poor standards in Success schools, Mr S. Kailasham, president of SC, ST Upadhaya Sangam, also blamed excess holidays for government schools.
“A private English medium school has 25 working days, however, all government schools, including the success schools, have only 21 working days. This affects learning of students,” he said, adding that despite the problems associated with teaching quality, rural parents are interested in sending their children to government-run English medium schools.
However, Mr P. Laxma Reddy, regional joint director of school education, defended the teaching quality in Success schools.
“From this academic year, we have switched over to state syllabus in Success schools. And all the teachers, since the programme started in 2008, have been provided summer training to teach subjects in English medium by the department,” he said, adding that teachers, though hailing from Telugu medium, had studied one subject in English in their graduation.
On the existing infrastructure gap, he said that though Success schools are not being dealt on a priority basis, but all 562-government high schools in Warangal are being provided funds under Centre’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan in a phased manner.

Job letters to selected teachers within a week

Job letters to selected teachers within a week
TNN, Aug 28, 2010, 09.11pm IST

PATNA: Job aspirants who have been selected for appointment as regular primary teachers against 34,450 vacancies in the state will get their appointment letters within a week in the light of a Supreme Court order.

HRD principal secretary Anjani Kumar Singh told newsmen on Saturday the department was aware of the demands allegedly being made from the selected candidates by unscrupulous elements in districts for ensuring choice postings. "To thwart such corrupt practices, we have formulated certain criteria which will be strictly adhered to for the posting of teachers,'' he said.

Under the criteria, all such primary teachers will be posted in those primary schools which were upgraded by the government recently. The district superintendents of education have also been directed to ensure that women and physically-challenged candidates are posted in the upgraded middle schools nearer to their residence.

He said the candidates were selected solely on the basis of their academic session with those getting their teachers training degrees earlier having been selected first.

He said a large number of vacancies of teachers will be created to meet the requirement in the light of Right to Education Act. To meet the demand, the HRD has asked all the constituent colleges having requisite infrastructure to start BEd courses. The department also plans to fill up the vacancies in government-run District Institute of Educational Training to meet the demand of trained teachers.

Singh said the state government plans to introduce an annual test on the pattern of National Eligibility Test for the appointment of school teachers in future. He denied any ban on appointment of panchayat, nagar and prakhand shikshaks as reported in a section of the press.

Govt. May Revise Fund Sharing Pattern for Implementation of Revised Rte-SSA

Govt. May Revise Fund Sharing Pattern for Implementation of Revised Rte-SSA

For the current year, Budget allocation of Rs 15000 crore for the implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE) through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has already been made at the BE stage. Over and above this additional allocation of Rs 4000 crore has been made during the first supplementary demands for grants. The requirement would again be re-assessed at the next budgetary stage.

The framework for implementation of SSA program in the XI Plan provided for a graded sharing pattern between the Centre and State. For implementation of the revised RTE-SSA program the Government is considering a revised fund sharing pattern.

This information was provided by the Minister of State for Finance, Shri Namo Narain Meena in reply to an Unstarred Question in Lok Sabha today.

Minority institutions’ plea: SC tells HRD to respond

Minority institutions’ plea: SC tells HRD to respond

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Human Resources Development Ministry (HRD) to respond to a challenge raised by minority-run, unaided educational institutions that a "hurriedly passed" Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 affects their fundamental right to function.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia ordered the Union of India and the ministry to respond to a petition filed by the Forum for Minority Schools that the government is trying to "enforce" the free education law through private schools, including unaided minority ones.

The forum, represented by SC lawyers Romy Chacko and A Quamaradeen, contended that the Act strips minority institutions off the Constitutional guarantee that the government would not interfere in their establishment and administration.

"The SC has issued a notice on our petition to be returnable on September 6. The petition will be taken up along with another matter on the same subject," said Chacko.

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The main opposition to the Act from minority schools is that they will be forced to admit children "belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighbourhood to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the strength of the class and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion".

Come Sept, primary school students to be graded daily

Come Sept, primary school students to be graded daily

Children studying in primary and upper primary government schools across Uttar Pradesh will now be evaluated and graded every day.

The state Education department, under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, is initiating the Complete Comprehensive Evaluation (CEE) programme for students.

Starting September, the programme will help teachers identify weak students, who will be given extra attention after school hours.

Though the programme will primarily focus on subjects like Science, Mathematics and English, it will also look into other disciplines. “The process is simple. The children will be classified under five grades — A, B, C, D and E — with ‘A’ being the best and ‘E’ the poor. Every day, after classes are over, the teachers will cumulatively grade students and take note of the weak subjects,” said an official in the district education office, Lucknow.

The schools will maintain charts of the five grades — numbers and names of students under each grade will be marked. During the weekend, special classes will be held for the weaker students. In case the number of students in grades D and E is high for more than two subjects, the weekend classes may be turned into an extra period every day.

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At present, the Primary Education department is preparing the module for the programme, following which, master trainers will be groomed. These master trainers will conduct workshops for principals and teachers. Workshops for module preparation are underway in Allahabad district.

Basic Shiksha Adhikari (Allahabad) Brijesh Mishra said: “While the module will be ready this month, the master trainer’s training will be complete by the second week of September. This will be followed by the training of principals and BTC teachers at the District Institute of Education and Training across the state. By October, the programme will start in schools.”

At the end of each month, the programme will be monitored at block and district levels. The districts will submit their reports to the state directorate quarterly.

Over Rs. 2000 crore action plan endorsed by MSA committee

Over Rs. 2000 crore action plan endorsed by MSA committee
Category » Bhopal Posted On Thursday, August 26, 2010

By Our Staff Reporter
Bhopal, Aug 26:
The executive committee of Madhya Pradesh Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan at its meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary, Shri Avani Vaish approved an annual action plan of Rs. 2060 crore for implementation of Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan for year 2010-11. The plan would be forwarded to the Central Government for approval.
The annual action plan provides for construction of 1257 upgraded high schools. Construction of 6008 additional teaching rooms and 1686 laboratory rooms is also proposed in the already existing schools under the action plan. Besides, the plan proposes construction of art/craft/culture rooms and library rooms to facilitate holding of co-curricular activities for all round personality development of students in the schools.
The action plan also provides for construction of 890 residential houses for teachers in remote areas. These houses would be attached to the schools.
Similarly, the action plan has a provision for creation of 11,300 additional posts of subject teachers and 8799 teachers for 1257 upgraded high schools in proportion to the number of students in government high schools.
The Chief Secretary directed to hold regular meetings of the committee constituted for school education for sorting out inter-departmental difficulties. The committee comprises principal secretaries of school education, tribal welfare, panchayat and rural department and urban development and administration department. The Commissioner, Public Instructions is the Convener of the committee. Shri Vaish directed to constitute a joint committee of concerning departments for preparing tracking cards and data base of children of 0-16 years age group. This will be convened by Information Technology Department. It was directed at the meeting to link the proposed "Readiness for Global Employment" scheme to ashram/English medium schools run by Tribal Development Department.
Prominent among those who attended the meeting included Principal Secretary, Finance, Shri G.P. Simhal; Principal Secretary, Education, Shri Deepak Khandekar; Principal Secretary, Tribal Welfare, Shri Devraj Birdi; Commissioner, Rajya Shiksha Kendra, Shri Manoj Jhalani; Principal Secretary, Woman and Child Development, Smt. Lavleen Kakkad; Secretary to Chief Minister, Shri Anurag Jain; Commissioner, Public Instructions, Shri Ashok Varnaval and non-official member Shri Suresh Gupta.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

State can regulate private school fees: HC

State can regulate private school fees: HC
TNN, Aug 28, 2010, 01.46am IST

HYDERABAD: Making it clear that it is the bounden duty of the state to ensure that private schools in the state do not indulge in profiteering business in the name of imparting education, the AP High Court on Friday upheld the power of the state government to regulate fee structure in schools.

The division Bench comprising Justice Goda Raghuram and Justice Naushad Ali while delivering its judgment in a batch of writ petitions held that private schools will henceforth fall under the purview of the Capitation Fee Act. However, the Bench said that such regulations have to be effective and held that the method of regulating school fee structures through district-level fee regulating committees was illegal.

While interpreting and upholding many provisions of GO 91, the Bench held three provisions as illegal. It may be recalled that after many agitations by parents and civil society groups, the government had issued GO 91 on August 6, 2009, making provision for the regulation of fee in private schools. Several writ petitions were filed by managements of several educational institutions, challenging the constitutional validity of the GO, claiming that they were affiliated to Central Board of School Education (CBSE) and that the state government had no power to regulate them. In their challenge, the schools contended that the GO was against various Supreme Court verdicts.

In its 114-page verdict delivered by Justice Raghu Ram, the Bench made it clear that the CBSE bylaws do not exclude the power of the state government in regulating fee structure. "The GO is not inconsistent with the CBSE rules. The Act prohibiting capitation fee is not limited to professional institutions but is also applicable to schools," it said. The Bench also reminded that the GO could be treated as a notification issued under the Act which prohibits capitation fee.

Before dealing with each provision of the GO, the Bench reminded that cross- subsidization of one section of students by another section is outlawed. Justice Raghu Ram said that there must be a sensitively calibrated regulatory domain to disapprove the fee structure prepared by the educational institutions and approve a fee structure that disables profiteering. It requires due diligence, association with experts from all fields, the court said.

Bal Bandhu Scheme

Bal Bandhu Scheme

The proposal of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been approved, in principle, for implementation of Bal Bandhu Scheme for Protection of Children in the areas of Civil Unrest with funding of Rs. 3.17 crore for 3 years. The Scheme will be implemented by NCPCR in 10 districts of the country on pilot basis.

This information was given by Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Women and Child Development (Independent Charge) in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today

Setback to private schools as bill to regulate them in offing

Setback to private schools as bill to regulate them in offing
PTI, Aug 28, 2010, 01.12pm IST

CHENNAI: Asserting that education cannot be allowed to become a "money-spinning enterprise", Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the Centre would bring forward bills in Parliament to regulate the private sector in the field of education.
Chidambaram said as education for children is uppermost in the minds of every Indian family, it had led to mushrooming of institutions, "which cannot be avoided in this transition."
"But we cannot allow them to become money-spinners and education a money-spinning enterprise," he said in his address at the Loyola World Alumni Congress 2010 here.
Observing that there was no "over regulation" of the private sector, he said some regulation was "indeed necessary, some to ensure quality of education and others to ensure values are being imparted."
"That is why, there are a number of bills to regulate," he said.
Expressing concern over "hatred" between persons of different communities, Chidambaram wondered how it all started.
Recalling the 2007-08 communal clashes in Orissa's Kandhamal district; he said after taking over as Home Minister post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, he took up the "challenge" of protecting the affected minority Christians there.
While he had asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure the return of displaced persons to celebrate Christmas in 2008 and complete return of all by the next year, the first task was achieved.
"In 2009, almost all returned and the settling of the rest is in progress," he said.
He said secularism and tolerance were important for the country and urged educational institutions to impart these values to students. He also lauded the Jesuits for their contribution in the field of education.
Chidambaram said great universities and educational institutions can thrive only if their alumni gave back to them something and this was now happening in India, even in the case of IITs.

Rs 28,000cr Games expense sounds like wrong priority: Premji

Rs 28,000cr Games expense sounds like wrong priority: Premji
Azim Premji, Aug 26, 2010, 12.17am IST

Recently, the central government disclosed that its total spend on the Delhi Commonwealth Games is likely to be Rs 11,494 crore. This number is disconcerting for two reasons. One, because it is an order-of-magnitude away from its original estimate of Rs 655 crore. Two, because the real cost of the games will be much higher if we were to include:

*Rs 16,560 crore additionally spent by Delhi government on upgrading the capital's infrastructure — a new airport terminal, wider roads, new flyovers, Metro rail extensions, and so on;

*Real cost of labour — labourers got sub-minimum wages, worked in unsafe conditions, and were housed in sub-human tenements;

*The human cost of driving the poor out of streets and out of sight.

The term 'commonwealth' originally meant public welfare, things that are for the greater good of society. Do the Commonwealth Games pass this commonwealth test? Is this Rs 28,000-crore drain on public funds for the greater common good?

Before I respond to the question, let me clarify my position on the Games themselves. The desire to celebrate runs deep in our collective psyche. The teachings of a spiritual master, the creation of a nation, the birth of a child — celebrating each of them is important because they are our cultural compass; they remind us of things we value most. There are few things as uplifting as watching a sportsperson push physical and mental limits to achieve the incredible. The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympics, are a celebration of the human spirit of excellence. Therefore, in itself, the Games are a worthy endeavour.

However, given the thousands of crores being spent on the Delhi Commonwealth Games, we need to ask if this is money spent wisely. As a country, we are constantly forced to compromise on funds. For instance, India needs more schools, and the existing schools need better infrastructure and more teachers. This will require us to spend 6% of our GDP on education, but we manage just over half that figure. Similarly, the country has very little sports infrastructure on the ground. To encourage sports, our first step has to be to ensure children get access to playgrounds, good equipment and quality coaching. To not have this, and to instead spend on a grand sporting spectacle sounds like we have got our priorities wrong.

Despite the wonderful economic strides of the past two decades, the reality is that India is a poor country. A recent study by the University of Oxford measured levels of education, health and living standard in the world's poorest countries. This study shows that India continues to be predominantly poor. In fact, there are more poor people in eight Indian states than in the 26 poorest African countries combined. Delhi has amongst the lowest occurrences of poverty in India, while at the other extreme, 81% of Bihar's population is poor. No surprise then that many of the 100,000 labourers who worked for unfair wages to prepare Delhi for the Commonwealth Games were from Bihar.

The capital already boasts of some of India's best infrastructure. Instead of spending crores to widen Delhi's roads, should we not prioritize building roads and schools in Bihar where none exist in the first place? If we have Rs 500 crore to spare, should we use it to build basic sports facilities in thousands of government schools, or should we spend it all on renovating one stadium?

In real terms, such choices are not all that easy to make. For instance, it is important for our cities to have great infrastructure, and money spent on a metropolis like Delhi will in turn catalyse our national economy. Our leaders have to constantly juggle and prioritize among many equally deserving needs, and it is not as if they are uninformed or wrongly intentioned. Over the last decade, the Indian government has taken important strides in social welfare and inclusive development. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are but two examples. However, it is not enough to have specific schemes such as the NREGA. Rather, equity and inclusion considerations must underlie each and every policy decision. Let me suggest that all public policy must recognize that GDP growth is meaningless if it does not uplift the most underprivileged of our country.

How can we forget that for Rs 28,000 crore we could have established primary schools and health centres in tens of thousands of villages? Can we ignore this splurge the next time a malnourished child looks at us in the eye?

At times like these, it will serve our leaders well to recall Gandhiji's talisman: "Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Schools not keen on mandatory panel

Schools not keen on mandatory panel

Nalini Ravichandran
First Published : 26 Aug 2010 03:44:08 AM IST
Last Updated :

CHENNAI: The Right to Education Act (RTE) mandates the setting up of School Management Committees (SMC) by all private unaided schools for managing school affairs, including fixing fees, in six months’ time but so far no school has done anything about it.

RTE implementation would complete the stipulated six-month period on September 1 but many schools are not even aware of the concept under which 75 per cent of the members of the SMC should be parents, 50 per cent of them women.

When Express spoke to an official in the Department of School Education, he said that schools would not be able to get away without an SMC. But school heads were not very keen on the idea, ready with the excuse that the RTE Act has not yet been notified in the State.

When parents of a private aided school in Gopalapuram mooted the idea of beginning work on the SMC a few weeks ago, the school administration showed no interest. N Philipose, a parent, said that it was not because the notification was yet to come but because school heads feared that an SMC could spell trouble.

Says a Principal from a private school in Vadapalani on condition of anonymity, “After the recent hue and cry on the fee structure, there are valid reasons for school managements not wanting any intrusion from parents. The idea of the SMC would be a recipe for licensed intrusion.”

Canon, Nestpider to roll out Rajasthan SSA project

Canon, Nestpider to roll out Rajasthan SSA project
Canon India will be providing the automated document feeder scanners for the Rajasthan Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan project
Published on 08/25/2010 - 09:44:03 AM

New Delhi: Canon India along with its channel partner Netspider India would roll out the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan CTS 2010 in Rajasthan.

Canon India will be providing the automated document feeder (ADF) scanners for the Rajasthan Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan CTS-2010 project.

The initiative aims to create a database of the demographic attributes, education status, out of school children status and many such minute details of every child in Rajasthan.

This is for the first time in Rajasthan that the government has taken the initiative to provide basic education to the children from birth to the age of 14.

In the year 2006, such a large scale scanning and ICR project was initiated by Government of Orissa. This project proved that it was possible to visualise the digitisation technology in action and not only in demo centres.

This project is a replication of the same but in much less time. This project involves scanning around three crore forms in just a month’s time.

Netspider will utilise Canon’s high speed document scanning solution integrated with its Forms Processing solution to provide one-stop solution to transform paper documents into database for effective information sharing and reports generation of various types as required by Government of India.

The tedious task like collection of forms from districts in Rajasthan, applying ICR solution and creation of database can be easily managed.

Netspider will be the end-to-end solution provider for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan implemented by Government of Rajasthan.
—iGovernment Bureau

NCTE recommendation observed in breach

NCTE recommendation observed in breach

Karthik Madhavan

COIMBATORE: Inclusive education, education for all, right to education – all of which the Government of India aims at achieving by 2015 – may remain only on paper.

Academics say this is because a National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) rule on appointment of faculty in education colleges has not been complied with.

The rule mandates colleges offering B.Ed. and M.Ed. courses to appoint a faculty with special education, so that those who pass out and take up teaching jobs are able to teach both mainstream and children with special needs.

The NCTE, after much deliberation, brought in the rule after a ‘Joint Committee of the National Council for Teacher Education and Rehabilitation Council of India' recommended that regular B.Ed. and M.Ed. course curricula be modified to include special education subjects.

The Committee, formed ‘To Formulate Strategies To Augment Special Education Teacher Preparation Courses' said: “Once the curriculum on special education is included in the general curriculum, there may be a necessity for at least one staff member from each teacher preparation institution to have depth in special education. At present, the general colleges of education are appointing staff members who possess a master degree in school subject and a master degree in education.”

“As the M.Ed. special education and general education patterns are identical, the Joint Committee, after a thorough deliberation strongly recommends that NCTE includes in its regulations that one of the staff members of colleges of education/teacher training institutes should possess special education masters degree in addition to the regular requirement of having masters degree in social subject. By making this arrangement mandatory, all general pre-service teachers can get orientation on special education from qualified special education teacher educators.”

This report was submitted in 2005.

Since then, nothing much has happened except that the NCTE directed the colleges of education to appoint a faculty with special education, says M.N.G. Mani, who was the chairman of the Joint Committee.

He explains that if teachers do not have the expertise to teach children with special needs, then there is every possibility that the latter may be left out of schools. Enquiries with colleges of education in and around Coimbatore reveal that they do not have a special education faculty on their rolls.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Children Working in Pan, Beedi and Cigarettes Industry

Children Working in Pan, Beedi and Cigarettes Industry
17:29 IST

The last Census conducted in 2001 by the Registrar General of India which is the only authentic data in respect of number of child labour in the Country indicating 2,52,574 children working in the pan, beedi and cigarette industry. As per the NSSO Survey 2004-05, the total number of working children is 89 lakhs.


The details of prosecutions launched and convictions obtained, State-wise, as made available by the State/UT Governments is as follows:

(readers are advised to go back to the original news item for this. The formatting is just NOT working!)

As per the available information the male female ratio of beedi workers is estimated to be around 1:2.5. However, the Government has not received any complaint on violation of Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment Shri Harish Rawat gave this information in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today.

Zari units in Surat deny forced child labour charges

Zari units in Surat deny forced child labour charges
Published: Monday, Aug 23, 2010, 13:48 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Surat | Agency: DNA

The zari-manufacturing industry in Surat has vehemently denied the US labour department's report about the use of 'forced or indentured child labour' in the zari industry, saying there isn't an iota of truth in the report.

"No child labourers are used in zari units in Surat. Zari manufacturing is a specialised job and needs a lot of skill, which we do not expect from children. We do not know on what basis the report has been prepared," said Ramanlal Jariwala, president of the Surat Zari Manufacturers Association and chairman of the All India Federation of Zari Associations.

Shantilal Jariwala, president of The Surat Zari Goods Producers Co-operative Society, also reacted angrily to the report, saying,
"Forget forced or indentured child labour, the zari manufacturing units do not employ or need to employ any children at all. One must keep in mind that in all these years, not a single child worker has been caught from a zari unit by labour officials."

The US labour department published a report last month mentioning 29 products from 21 countries, believed to have been mined, produced or manufactured by forced or indentured child labour. The list includes zari (embroidered textile) and five other Indian products, viz. bricks, cottonseed (hybrid), garments, rice and stones.

American authorities have directed that contractors who supply any of these products to the US are required to certify that forced or indentured child labour was not used in their making.

Paresh Jariwala, a leading exporter of zari, said, "Zari manufacturing is like a cottage industry in Surat. While there are no child labourers employed, it is likely that some school-going children may be helping their families in the work. But it would be wrong to therefore classify it as child labour. And forced child labour it definitely isn't."

While we are willing to certify that our products are not made with the help of forced child labour, we must add that the US report does not present the true picture, he added.

Surat, famous for its textile and diamond industries, is also the oldest manufacturing centre of traditional zari in the country.

The industry has been in existence in the city for more than 150 years. Traditional zari is mainly made from gold, silver and copper, but its demand has fallen consistently in the last few years due to emergence of plastic and metallic varieties of zari.

Plea for aid to train teachers- Ampareen to seek Rs 52cr

Plea for aid to train teachers
- Ampareen to seek Rs 52cr
OUR CORRESPONDENT
Ampareen Lyngdoh

Shillong, Aug. 24: Meghalaya will seek Rs 52 crore from the Union human resource development ministry to train teachers in the state.

According to the state education department, a large number of untrained teachers has affected the performance of the students in various examinations.

Moreover, lack of proper training of teachers has also resulted in a large number of school dropouts.

There are at least 20,000 untrained teachers in lower and upper primary schools in Meghalaya.

An education department official today said education minister Ampareen Lyngdoh would meet Union minister for human resource development minister Kapil Sibal in early September.

The state education department wanted to urge the government to provide a one-time grant of Rs 52 crore to upgrade the teaching training centres.

Meghalaya has only seven district institutes of education and training for the teachers and each institute cannot take more than 80 candidates a year for training.

“We want a one-time grant so that these training institutes can be upgraded to admit more teachers,” the official said.

The education department plans to use the money in a phased manner.

Another option is to allow the untrained teachers in the state to get training from other states in the country.

Ampareen admitted that there was an urgent need to improve the quality of education by providing quality training to the teachers.

“As the state is cash starved to provide massive training to the teachers, we need the central assistance of Rs 52 crore,” the minister said.

There is a huge backlog of teachers from 1992, who are untrained and have less qualification.

The government is also contemplating to offer golden handshakes to the teachers who are less qualified but continue to teach at both lower primary and upper levels.

Ampareen said the government would explore the possibility of using part of the proposed one-time grant of Rs 52 crore as golden handshake to less qualified teachers.

“If the students do not get quality education from the lower primary and upper primary levels, there are chances that they will perform poorly in Class X examinations,” Ampareen said.

Current Assessment of SSA

Current Assessment of SSA
17:26 IST
Forty Two independent agencies of national repute have been engaged on a two yearly basis to monitor the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme. These Monitoring Institution (MI) submit reports every six months. The half yearly reports submitted by the MIs are shared with the concerned State Project Directors of SSA of the States/UTs for appropriate follow-up and remedial action. The reports of the MIs are posted on the website www.ssa.nic.in. Besides, the Institute of Public Auditors of India (IPAI), an independent agency has also been engaged for concurrent financial review to cover all the States/UTs. It submits reports to the Ministry annually, which are shared with the concerned States/UTs for taking necessary corrective action. In addition, SSA conducts third party evaluation through independent agencies for the civil works taken up in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Human Resource Development Smt. D. Purandeswari, in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.

MV/SKS/Hb

Every Indian will be literate by 2020: Sibal

Every Indian will be literate by 2020: Sibal
Karan Thapar , CNN-IBN
Posted on Aug 15, 2010 at 21:38 | Updated Aug 19, 2010 at 14:40

On Devil's Advocate this week, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal spoke to Karan Thapar on the United Progressive Alliance government's perceived loss of direction on key issues, its internal contradictions, and its ambitious plan to ensure free and compulsory education to all children above the age of six. Below is the transcript of that interview.

Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to Devil's Advocate. Just 15 months after elections, is the government drifting, it has lost direction, or is that an unfair perception? That's the key issue I shall tackle today with Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal.

Kapil Sibal, whether it's Kashmir or tackling the Maoists, whether it's rising prices or preparation for the Commonwealth Games, or even relations with Pakistan, people perceive confusion or paralysis. What's gone wrong?

Kapil Sibal: I don't think that's quite true. Of course these are issues....all that you mentioned are real issues. I think any government will be facing these issues, whoever was in power, at this point in time. We are facing these issues. We are trying to resolve the legacy issues as some of them are legacy issues. The price rise issue, as you know, is an issue that the government is exceptionally concerned about and debates have taken place in Parliament and the Finance Minister has addressed them. So I don't think you can put the blame on the doorsteps of the government.

Karan Thapar: Let look at one or two of the issues where the sense of drift is perhaps more apparent, to try and get a sense of where the government stands. To begin with, the Maoists. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that they are the single biggest security threat that India faces. Yet Mamata Banerjee - your colleague - hosts a rally with the support of the Maoists. And the IG of the western range of West Bengal has confirmed that Asit Mahato, who is wanted in connection with the Gyaneshwari attack, was present at the rally. How do you explain this contradiction?

Kapil Sibal: You know, first of all, if you want to talk about the general issue of Maoists, that's one thing. If you want to talk about a particular rally, that's quite another thing because you cannot talk about a particular rally and then talk about a government in general on that. So if you want to talk about the Maoists issues, I am ready to talk about it.

Karan Thapar: I'll tell you why I bring up the rally. Because for many people, that rally and the speech she made have been interpreted as undermining the government's strategy.

Kapil Sibal: That's alright. As I said, there will be many speeches in the history of this country and many in the last fifteen years which, in a given situation, will seek to undermine the authority of the government. But that's not so.

Karan Thapar: Would you accept that this undermines the authority?

Kapil Sibal: I don't think so at all. I don't think it's undermining the authority. The Home Minister has made it quite clear that many of these people are perceived as Maoists by the Home Ministry and certainly the government concerned is entitled to take action. And the Home Minister said in Parliament that he will be ready to deal with them.

Karan Thapar: Except that the members of the Cabinet don't speak in one voice but appear to contradict each other not just over small things like who attends the rally...

Kapil Sibal: ...if you want to look at the government in its overall performance, let's look at it. If you don't talk about individuals here and there, I don't think it undermines the enormous success of the government, especially in the context of the economy --I think that's really....

Karan Thapar: ...I'll come to the economy. Just stick to it. You therefore don't agree with the public perception that Mamata Banerjee's rally has undermined the government's policy on Maoists?

Kapil Sibal: I don't think so. Whether Mamata encourage them, did not encourage them, I don't know. This is something which I don't have any knowledge about.

Karan Thapar: But are you not embarrassed by the speech?

Kapil Sibal: I am certainly not embarrassed by the speech. If Mamata has made a speech and that particular speech if people are unhappy about it, then people are free to criticise. I don't think the Government of India is undermined by that. I think that's an extreme conclusion.

Karan Thapar: So in a sense you see what Mamata said and did as something that is separate from the government's policy?

Kapil Sibal: The government clearly is wanting to deal with the Maoists and wherever we find individuals are perceived as Maoists by the Government of India, the Government of India will certainly brook no interference in that process of taking action.

Karan Thapar: So when the people of India turn around and say they are confused by Mamata's speech, where does the government stand?

Kapil Sibal: I don't think the people of India are confused. People of India understand the politics.

Karan Thapar: Alright, let's come to another issue where the sense of drift seems to be strong - Kashmir. Since June 11, the state has been in turmoil. Yet the government in New Delhi appears paralysed and, until Tuesday, the Prime Minister was completely silent. Is that the wisest way of responding what many believe as perhaps the most serious crisis affecting the Valley.

Kapil Sibal: Again Karan, please do not look at the performance of the government by looking at one issue or statement made on a particular day. Remember, Kashmir is a legacy issue. Kashmir has been in turmoil for a long period of time. The turmoil in Kashmir or the Maoists situation has not risen since the coming of the UPA government. So therefore these are legacy issue and they have to be dealt with in that context.

Karan Thapar: I accept the point that they are legacy issues. But hasn't the Kashmir issue in a sense been inflamed and become much worse in the last six weeks? And the government's silence worries people.

Kapil Sibal: May be the tactics have changed. May be it's an ever evolving situation. Let me tell you one thing on record...and I think the Prime Minister said it. The Prime Minister understands the hurt of the people of Kashmir. He said so. The Prime Minister wants to reach out to the people of Kashmir. I think nobody in this government, nobody in this nation does not grieve with young children and their families who are victims.

Karan Thapar: Except that in this instance, the Prime Minister should have spoken much earlier. His silence has exacerbated the alienation...

Kapil Sibal: ..no, no you cannot talk about governments by saying that the Prime Minister should have spoken earlier. That's the perception that the media might have. But I think the government knows when it should speak, and the Prime Minister knows when to speak.

Karan Thapar: Once again. On this question of perception, it's much like the Maoist issue I talked about, you don't worry, and you aren't concerned that the perception of the press and many people is that the government doesn't have a policy or a position on Kashmir.

Kapil Sibal: As I said Karan, the press is not running our government though it seeks to set the agenda. And I think the press also, in some instances, should not go overboard. I have great respect for the press, but I am finding instances especially....

Karan Thapar: ...you are worried about the press criticism?

Kapil Sibal: I am not worried at all. In fact I welcome the criticism. But I think the press must understand the context in which things are done. Perhaps they don't have access to facts that the government has access to.

Karan Thapar: But shouldn't the government share those facts with the country?

Kapil Sibal: We do. Some facts can be shared, some facts cannot be shared.

Karan Thapar: Kashmir is one area where things can't be shared?

Kapil Sibal: We know, we do share some facts. Most of the time, we do share facts. And now with the Right to Information Act, facts are available to the public at large.

Karan Thapar: You are asking for a more understanding press. Let me then test that by coming to a third subject - the Commonwealth Games. Despite the delays, despite the proliferating allegations of corruption and the dismal state of Delhi's roads and pavements, your colleague Jaipal Reddy keeps saying these are going to be the best ever Commonwealth Games. The people, when they hear that, they say such bravado proves that he is either in a state of denial, or he is blind to the real problems.

Kapil Sibal: Okay now Karan, may I request you? When are the games going to be held? October?

Karan Thapar: the third.

Kapil Sibal: the third right?

Karan Thapar: Just six weeks away.

Kapil Sibal: Just six weeks away. Will you not please wait for six weeks to pass judgment. My request is - please wait for six weeks. But I can tell you one thing on record today that perhaps the stadiums that you see are perhaps better than any stadium anywhere in the world.

Karan Thapar: Let me accept what you said - wait six weeks to judge. But let me come to it by putting this to you. Your government has been preparing for the Games since 2004. If with just six weeks left, things still seem shambolic, doesn't that suggest that the government hasn't performed?

Kapil Sibal: I am not disputing that there are certain issues that may perhaps have been addressed earlier. I am not disputing that. There are certain issues that should be looked at. There are certain allegations that have been made, whether they are true or not I cannot say. But certainly all those must be looked into...

Karan Thapar: ...and will be?

Kapil Sibal: I am sure will be because the appropriate authorities will certainly decide and they have to because, under the Right to Information, you can get all the data. But the point is we are six weeks away from the Games. Let's not denigrate India. Let's not destroy India's credibility in the global community. And therefore, please don't go overboard. Let the games take place. On the 3rd of October they will start and will be over by 16th of October.

Karan Thapar: All of us are with you when you say that. Let me put a question to you, not as a Cabinet minister, this time as an MP from Delhi. As you know, perhaps better than me, this city is in a state of apprehension on what could happen when the Games come. Do you share your voters' and your constituents' concern?

Kapil Sibal: Of course I share. When I go to Connaught Place, I see part of that still in a state of total disarray.

Karan Thapar: Are you worried?

Kapil Sibal: Yes I am worried. But they say that by August 31, all this will be over. I cannot not believe them.

Karan Thapar: Let's then try and tie this up by putting to you the central concern why people are worried about this government drifting, losing direction and not being in control. And that's got to do with the lackluster nature of leadership. Let me put it like this: Sharad Pawar seems to be more interested in cricket than his ministry; Chidambaram is being publicly checked by Digvijaya Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar; Montek Singh Alhuwalia and KamalNath don't agree on roads; Jairam Ramesh reputedly doesn't seem to agree with any of his colleagues and Mamata is more absent than present. What's going on?

Kapil Sibal: I don't know. You know whether you are stating impacts the overall performance of the government. I personally am not willing to comment on any of these things because I don't think it is my station to comment...

Karan Thapar: ...it may not affect performance but image....

Kapil Sibal: There are lots of positive things that are happening in the government that have not happened in the history of this country. So people weigh the pros and cons. Not every government is perfect. And people ultimately weigh the overall performance of the government. How has it done in economy? How has it done in some crucial sectors? And I do believe that this government has put in places systems that have never been put in this country before.

Karan Thapar: People are perplexed by the strange behaviour of the Prime Minister. They say while the government seems to lurch from crisis to crisis, he is either silent or invisible. It's almost as if he opted out.

Kapil Sibal: That's not true. First of all, I do not think that Prime Minister should speak everyday. The Prime Minister is wise; the Prime Minister ultimately leads the country.

Karan Thapar: But what about when there is a perceived sense of crisis?

Kapil Sibal: Yes there was a sense of crisis and the Prime Minister has spoken.

Karan Thapar: Which one are you talking about?

Kapil Sibal: I am talking about Kashmir.

Karan Thapar: He took six or eight weeks.

Kapil Sibal: It doesn't matter because we were letting the state government deal with the situation. Remember, much of what happens in Kashmir happens because of certain complex factors which need not necessarily be attributed within the territory of Kashmir itself.

Karan Thapar: So you are saying he speaks when he needs to speak?

Kapil Sibal: He speaks when he needs to speak, and he has rightly spoken, and he has spoken timely.

Karan Thapar: You don't agree that his silence on the Commonwealth Games or on Mamata is disconcerting?

Kapil Sibal: I don't think he should be talking about the Commonwealth Games, he shouldn't be. Look these are allegations and mostly through the media. Once the facts are before us and the investigation takes place, law will take its course. The Prime Minister shouldn't be involved in speaking on the Commonwealth Games whether something has been allegedly proved to be right or wrong.

Karan Thapar: So the perception that he is silent and has opted out is unfair?

Kapil Sibal: Totally unfair. I don't think he should talk about the Commonwealth Games at all. It is not his station to talk about the Commonwealth Games whether these allegations are true or not.

Karan Thapar: So the perception that this government has lost direction is unfair?

Kapil Sibal: Totally unfair.

Karan Thapar: Let's come to a subject where the government has won praise, first and foremost, the economy. There's no doubt that you have overcome the threat to growth. But the problem is that you have ended up with high inflation which you can't reduce. The inflation is stubbornly stuck at 9 per cent, food inflation has jumped up to 11.4 per cent. Let me ask you bluntly. Has inflation defeated the government?

Kapil Sibal: No I don't think so. I think the inflation is a phenomenon that is recognised. The Finance Minister and the government are extremely concerned about inflation. I think the steps are being taken and, with a record output this year, I think the inflation will go down to 5 per cent.

Karan Thapar: Let me put it like this. I will come to a moment to this claim that inflation will go down to 5 per cent by the end of the year. When you say steps are being taken, the Supreme Court has itself pointed out that rotting grain should have been given free. If it had been, prices would have come down and the hungry would have been fed.

Kapil Sibal: It's a highly exaggerated number.

Karan Thapar: Who has exaggerated?

Kapil Sibal: I mean the volume...

Karan Thapar: ...the Supreme Court has exaggerated?

Kapil Sibal: I am not talking about the Supreme Court. The numbers given in the public domain are highly exaggerated.

Karan Thapar: But it's the Supreme Court commenting that I am quoting to you.

Kapil Sibal: The Agriculture Minister said in Parliament, in Rajya Sabha to a question that these numbers are highly exaggerated.

Karan Thapar: So the Supreme Court has commented on figures that are not accurate?

Kapil Sibal: I am not commenting on the Supreme Court. I am only telling you what the minister said with responsibility, on the floor of the House.

Karan Thapar: Do not the government committed to the Aam Admi have a sense of guilt? The Supreme Court is saying don't let grains rot. Give it away instead.

Kapil Sibal: We agree. I am only questioning the numbers. We are saying that grains should not rot.

Karan Thapar: But it has rotted and it wasn't given.

Kapil Sibal: I am not disputing that. Some portions have rotted and it has to be deal.

Karan Thapar: So who is responsible for this?

Kapil Sibal: Government of course.

Karan Thapar: So the government carries the blame?

Kapil Sibal: Of course the government carries the blame. Why will government not carry the blame that some part of it is rotting? We must accept.

Karan Thapar: You are being very broad-minded. You are saying that the government was wrong.

Kapil Sibal: It's not a question of right and wrong. Remember central government doesn't look at every godown and doesn't inspect every godown which is in various states. There are some responsibilities of the FCI, the officers...

Karan Thapar: ...governments in the plural?

Kapil Sibal: Obviously governments in the plural. And governments in the plural, if some part of the grain is rotting, must take blame. Why it is rotting will be looked into. The fact of the matter is let's not blow this out of proportion. Ninety per cent of it, much more than that, doesn't rot.

Karan Thapar: Let's not blow this out of proportion. Let's then come to the second thing that you said - by the end of this year, inflation will be down to 5 per cent. Kausik Basu said it, Montek Singh Alhuwalia said it, Pranab Mukherjee said it. The problem is just six months ago all of them were predicting inflation will peak at 6 per cent in March, and it didn't. I put it to you that on the issue of inflation, the government's credibility is damaged.

Kapil Sibal: Again, as you said inflation is an issue, we accept that fact. But if you really look at the last several years, there is a global dimension to it and that's something that the Finance Minister has...

Karan Thapar: So you are a victim of something outside your control?

Kapil Sibal: I am not a victim. Please don't use these harsh words. I am neither a victim --we are part of a global market. There are some factors in global market that impact on inflation on which we have very little control.

Karan Thapar: I will leave it there but I will point out that others will disagree whether in fact its that global market that impacts it or whether it's your policy.

Kapil Sibal: Economics is not mathematics right? If it's not a formula of algebra, others will disagree.

Karan Thapar: Let's come then to the second area where the government has achieved a lot. The Right to Education undoubtedly is a significant landmark. The problem is people perceive you have trouble implementing it. Are you?

Kapil Sibal: There always will be because the process of implementation is highly complex. Again you see Karan, one must understand the government is not just Prime Minister. Prime Minister provides leadership. Government is various stakeholders who have official responsibility to carry forward the policies of the government. And therefore please do not look at the government by one incident here or there. Implementation of the Right to Education Act is the responsibility of who: the central government, state government, schools, parents?

Karan Thapar: Where is the problem?

Kapil Sibal: Problem is we need to make sure that the level of every school-- all that is laid in the Act is implemented.

Karan Thapar: Are schools defying the Act? Are private schools in particular, defying the Act?

Kapil Sibal: Neighbourhood schools have to be set up by the state governments and they have the authority to describe what a neighbourhood school is and where it should be set up.

Karan Thapar: Are they doing it, or are they doing it very slowly?

Kapil Sibal: They are doing it. They have got three years under the act itself. Now you want a 100 per cent performance in a few years when the Act describes three years. And you are saying look, there is a big problem of implementation. There is a problem and that implementation has to be done in a three year time. We are not even six months old in that.

Karan Thapar: Can I ask you one thing? When do you think every child above the age of six will be in school, at the act requires.

Kapil Sibal: I think every person will be literate in this country by 2020.

Karan Thapar: By 2020?

Kapil Sibal: Every person. When I say literate, I mean 98 per cent literacy.

Karan Thapar: What about my specific question. When will every child over the age of six will be in school?

Kapil Sibal: I would say within five years.

Karan Thapar: Within five years?

Kapil Sibal: Yes.

Karan Thapar: So implementation will take five years?

Kapil Sibal: Three years for the physical infrastructure, five years to get teachers there and in five years time, every child will be in school.

Karan Thapar: My last question. If it is going to take five years, can you understand the impatience people feel?

Kapil Sibal: When you say --the numbers will be increasing. We have 64 per cent literate today. There are ten million children out of school. We have to get them into school. This is no easy job and is not the job one minister or another but all the stake holders in the system. And that applies to every other function...

Karan Thapar: So you are satisfied with the progress even if people are impatient?

Kapil Sibal: Absolutely.

Karan Thapar: A pleasure talking to you.

Kapil Sibal: Thank you.

Cabinet clears nutritional scheme for girls

Cabinet clears nutritional scheme for girls
TNN, Aug 17, 2010, 01.34am IST

NEW DELHI: In a move aimed at empowering girls in the age group of 11 to 18 years, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Monday gave its approval for implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls -- SABLA -- in select 200 districts spanning all states and Union Territories.

The scheme was recommended by the group of ministers and aims to enhance the nutritional and economic status of adolescent girls.

"These districts will be selected using a set of indicators and will be a combination in equal proportion of good performing, moderate and not so well performing districts in all the states,'' said a statement issued by the government.

An allocation of Rs 4,500 crore has been made for implementing the scheme during the remaining period of the XI Five Year Plan. For 2010-11, a provision of Rs 1,000 crore has been made in the budget.

"Adolescent girls (AGs) will be provided Take Home Ration (THR) under the scheme. However, if any state/UT insists on providing hot cooked meal, standards should be set for the same,'' added the statement.

Separately, the ministry of women and child development will explore feasibility of implementing Conditional Cash Transfer scheme as an alternative for AGs in 100 more districts. The cash transfer will be made contingent on the conditions to be fulfilled which will need to be laid down clearly and which should be implementable.

The scheme envisages reaching out to adolescent girls at Anganwadi centres, run under the World Bank-assisted Integrated Child Development Projects, in various states. In the initial years of the scheme, the government expects to cover 92 lakh to 1.15 crore adolescent girls per annum.

The scheme will entail 50:50 sharing between the Centre and the states for the nutrition provision (600 calroies and 18-20 grams of protein). The cost per girl will be Rs 5 per day for 300 days in a year. There is also a provision for Rs 3.80 lakh per ICDS project per annum for various components of the scheme like training kit at each anganwadi centre, national health education, life skill education, purchase of iron folic acid amongst other things.

A glimmer of hope for girls' education in UP

A glimmer of hope for girls' education in UP
Shailvee Sharda, TNN, Aug 15, 2010, 04.15am IST

LUCKNOW: As India enters into another year of its Independence, Uttar Pradesh can hope to bridge the yawning gap between male and female literacy rates. The UP government has got positive indications from the ministry of human resource development on a proposal to open Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) in 226 educationally backward blocks (EBBs).

Against 70.2% literate men in UP, there are only 42.9% literate women. The state of affairs assume a shocking proportion when the figures are compared with the national average. An EBB is a block having literacy rate below the national average and a gender gap above national average.

Of the 900-odd total blocks in UP, 680 are educationally backward. Till now, 454 EBBs have KGBVs. The move would help at least 20,000 girls to resume studies. "We have kept our fingers crossed... the formal answer would be communicated to us very soon,'' said a senior officer associated with the proposal.

Education department officials confirmed that a proposal to this effect has been sent. They said the project sanctioning body of MHRD went through the details a month ago. "If this works out, all EEBs in UP would have a KGBV ... and UP will also become country's first state with a KGVB in all EBBs,'' an official said.

Notably, demographic experts across the globe are of view that female literacy of a state is the most authentic indicator of its overall development. "Female literacy rates reflect in terms of a number of socio-economical parameters like infant and maternal mortality rates, population stabilisation, enrolment of children in schools and so on,'' said city-based social activist Shakuntala Joshi.

The KGBV scheme was started in July 2004 for setting up residential schools at upper primary level for girls predominantly belonging to marginalised communities. The scheme is being implemented in educationally backward blocks where female literacy is below the national average or the gender gap in literacy is above the national average.

The state education department also has plans to upgrade existing KGBVs to the level of high school (in a phased manner) under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan. A proposal to this effect was sent to MHRD in May. But the decision is yet to be taken in this regard. Had the decision come early, 11,000-odd girls who passed their model 3 (class eight) from KGBVs this year would have completed their high school.

The biggest issue with KGBVs is that they impart education only till class VIII. "There are many schemes to encourage parents if their daughters study in class XI... but in the absence of avenues to promote girl child education after class VIII and before class XI leads to a major drop-out," said Augustine Veliath from Unicef.

Class Struggle

Class Struggle
TOI Crest, Aug 14, 2010, 11.58am IST

BLANK BOARD: The share of government expenditure on elementary education, as a share of GDP has declined from 6.86% in 2000-01 to 6.21% in 2007-08.
The success of programmes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) in getting most children enrolled at the primary level has created the illusion that the government is now finally getting down to business and boldly financing education. Spending on education quadrupled between 1990-91 and 2000-01 . Since 2004-05 , the combined expenditure on education by the Centre and states has increased at a blistering pace — from about Rs 96,694 crore to Rs 1,86,499 crore, an almost 100 per cent increase. However, during this period, total expenditure by the government on all sectors has also gone up considerably, backed by the high growth rate of the Indian economy. But how much of the total government expenditure — and GDP — is the share that goes to education? It has remained virtually stagnant since 1991-92 .

If you break down the expenditure to see how much is being spent on different stages or types of education, the declines become starker. Between 2001-02 and 2007-08 , the combined expenditure of the Centre and states as a proportion of total expenditure and GDP actually declined for elementary, secondary and higher education.

A similar decline or stagnation has been witnessed in technical and professional education in recent years. The share of government expenditure on technical education has stagnated at about 0.4 per cent of GDP for almost two decades. In a country where only about 2 per cent of the population has received technical education of any kind, this is disastrous.

What is the effect of the state's retreat from education? Since there is widespread thirst for education and an ever-growing demand for diverse educational options and services, the vacuum is filled by private educational institutions . But the burgeoning private sector in education comes with its own problems, which are now beginning to haunt Indian students and their families.

Private educational institutions tend to congregate in areas where they get the best returns. Thus, remote tribal areas or villages will not see private schools while urban centers will have an excess of them. This tends to deprive already disadvantaged sections of the population from access to education.

Since private educational institutions essentially function for profit, their fee structures tend to be higher than that of government-run institutions. According to National Sample Survey (NSS) reports, household expenditure on fees for education has gone up by 188 per cent in rural areas and 154 per cent in urban areas between 1993-94 and 2004-05 .

The quality of education is one of the most serious casualties of declining public expenditure , because the government's regulatory system too takes a hit from the lack of resources to monitor the gigantic Indian educational system. Recent incidents of deemed universities, teachers' training colleges, medical colleges and regular colleges functioning below stipulated standards are but the tip of the iceberg. Delays in checking and implementing standards, and widespread corruption in regulatory bodies lead to thousands of students getting duped. This can be prevented if there is efficient regulation.

Declining quality standards in mainstream education have also led to the growth of the shadow education system — the world of private tuition and coaching classes. Parents struggle to ensure that their children receive better education and seeing falling standards in institutions, especially schools, they are forced to pay for private coaching. Again, this puts a burden on families' expenditure. Expenses on private coaching have recorded an increase of 73 per cent in rural areas and 82 per cent in urban areas since 1993.

In higher education, regulation of quality has become a serious issue. There are about 17,625 colleges in the country. Out of these, about 14,000 come under the purview of the UGC and the remaining under technical education bodies like the AICTE and MCI. Out of the UGC colleges, only 5,589 are recognised under section 2(f) of the UGC Act, meaning they fulfill the minimum condition of being run by a registered body with an affiliation to some recognised university. Over 60 per cent of colleges do not even fulfill the bare minimum conditions.

The National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) is responsible for evaluating the performance and standards of colleges and universities. However, it has been unable to inspect over 60 per cent of the institutions. Granting accreditation or evaluation rankings are a different matter altogether.

Another important area within education that has suffered is teachers' training. This is a crucial link in the system as it is teachers who are going to nurture future generations. However , the government has virtually ceded ground to unscrupulous operators by allowing them to set up private teachers' training shops across the country, partly under pressure to produce sufficient number of teachers to fulfill its Right to Education obligations. The National Council for Teachers' Education (NCTE) has become a mere clearinghouse for applications.

In short, the government is still far from the recommended 6 per cent of GDP on education . Ironically, it seems to be maintaining the low level in the hope that the private sector will somehow make up for it. But that does not seem to be happening. For the country, it clearly spells trouble.

Navodayas on culture course

Navodayas on culture course
BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY

New Delhi, Aug. 19: Navodaya Vidyalayas, the chain of Centre-run residential schools, will diversify from regular courses and start cultural schools to help students develop and nurture their skills in music, dance and drama.

Four such schools focusing on the performing arts will be set up. The training will enhance the aesthetic sensibilities of students and make them self-sufficient. After the courses, they can take up jobs or pursue further studies.

The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti’s executive body, headed by Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal, has approved the plan and has asked the organisation to submit a detailed proposal, ministry sources told The Telegraph.

Under the proposal drawn up so far, there will be four years of schooling starting from Class IX. Students will study parts of general courses such as math, science and literature in Classes IX and X. But in Classes XI and XII, they will focus on culture.

The students will organise exhibitions and programmes. Another key objective behind such schools is that they will help strengthen the cultural roots and preserve national heritage.

The schools will encourage children to develop a taste in classical music, dance, folk forms, theatre and art. Students who are good in music will be given admission through a talent search.

The diversification does not end with culture. The Navodaya Samiti has also decided to start what are now being described as “10 science magnet schools” which will be dedicated to science subjects.

These will be located near the scientific institutions and research laboratories.

Students passing out from these schools will pursue advanced scientific research. This proposal is set to go to the Union cabinet soon.

The 594 Navodaya schools, which mainly target the rural poor, are regarded as islands of excellence. About 97 per cent students of these schools pass the board exam every year. About 74 per cent are from families with an annual income less than Rs 48,000.

The Navodaya samiti has argued that about 4 to 5 per cent children in every community are gifted students who need to be identified and provided with quality education.

Deemed univs-like scam in teacher training institutes?

Deemed univs-like scam in teacher training institutes?
Akshaya Mukul, TNN, Aug 23, 2010, 01.11am IST

NEW DELHI: It has the makings of another educational scam, almost like the one involving deemed universities. The only difference is that it relates to teacher education.

The indictment comes from a high-powered committee of the HRD ministry that went into the functioning of Northern Regional Centre of National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and found massive irregularities in granting recognition to teacher training institutes and even disregard for the parent organization.

Irregularities and corruption in NRC had its impact on teacher education in six states — Haryana, Himachal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and the UT of Chandigarh — all of whom fall under its jurisdiction. “A similar situation prevails in other regional committees of NCTE and soon their functioning will also be reviewed,” a source said.

The committee has recommended repatriation of the current regional director and action against errant officials. It has also said NRC be reconstituted and wide-ranging procedural changes be brought in. Even NCTE has been criticized for its failure to monitor the functioning of NRC.

The committee, headed by a joint secretary of the HRD ministry, said NRC delayed issuing deficiency letters to institutions seeking NCTE approval. NCTE regulation of 2009 states that deficiency letter be issued within 45 days whereas in case of 20 institutions, such communication was sent after two-three months. NCR also delayed its communication to the state government seeking its clearance within a month. This also happened in case of 20 institutions. In cases where deficiencies were pointed out, the review committee found that it was done without proper examination of fact on records. Even the NRC regional director has been blamed for failing to notice that deficiencies being pointed out were not correct. The NRC communicated deficiencies which were vague and did not specify the exact nature of deficiency, the report said, citing vague deficiencies like details in land document did not match with details in affidavit and so on.

In what indicates manipulation, the HRD committee also found that as per NCTE norms, applications seeking clearance were not processed chronologically and even the well-laid out system of preparing comprehensive agenda notes highlighting the proposal, comments of the visiting team, recommendation of state governments were not followed.

Almost like UGC’s role in giving deemed university status to private institutions, the committee found lack of consistency in decision-making. The panel pointed out that in one meeting of NRC, it decided to refuse recognition to one institute for lacking infrastructure but in the same meeting, another institute with similar deficiencies was issued notice.

School kids cut CM to size, Mayavati shrinks to Mavati

School kids cut CM to size, Mayavati shrinks to Mavati
TAPAS CHAKRABORTY

Lucknow, Aug. 24: Ma, Mavit, Mavati…

Mayavati had better do something quick about the state of schools in Uttar Pradesh if she wants children to spell her name right.

An NGO assessing the District Primary Education Programme and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, a national programme for universalisation of elementary education, asked 16 students of Classes III and IV of a government school in Joar village near Lucknow to write the name of their chief minister in Hindi.

Mavit and Mavati were the most favoured spellings, but three students got no further than Ma and some couldn’t get started at all. Not one got it right.

“Joar happens to be just 6km from Bakshi Ka Talab, an extension of Lucknow state capital. It has 700 residents, mostly belonging to the other backward classes and Dalits. We asked the students the name of the chief minister. Most of them knew the name of Mayavati. But when we asked eight students to write her name, none could do it properly,” said Sunil Yadav, a volunteer of the NGO ASER that conducted the survey. “We repeated the test with eight others. Only three could write till ‘ma’ in Hindi.”

Most of the children belonged to families of farmers and farm workers.

Hundred volunteers of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) team had visited 32 villages on August 21-22 to assess the state of primary education.

But Mayavati, who so wants people to know her that she has had her own statues installed in Lucknow, fared better than the state she rules.

“We then asked the children which state they hailed from. None could name Uttar Pradesh,” Sunil said. Only four students said they live in Joar, the survey team members said.

Paras Nath, a literacy campaigner, said: “It is interesting to note that in the village Joar, even mud house walls are plastered with Mayavati’s posters. The villagers may have been discussing her, a reason why the children know her name. But they were not taught how to spell.”

Rukmini Banerjee, director of ASER in north India who was spearheading the survey in the 32 villages, said: “The scenario is depressing. Only six out of 32 schools we visited had active teaching sessions while in the rest, teachers could not be seen giving lessons to the children although there was reasonably good infrastructure, grants were available and the midday meals scheme was running.”

Venugopal, a volunteer from Andhra Pradesh on the ASER team, said a 25-year-old teacher was in tears because students have been dropping out of her school. From 25, the number has come down to 10 as students are switching to private schools, Seokumari Gupta, the head teacher, cried.

Homang, a volunteer from Nagaland, said: “Elsewhere, the teachers, unlike Seokumari, don’t seem to bother. They are everywhere else but in the class. The panchayats, which are supposed to monitor the progress of the district education programme, are not bothered either.”

Uttar Pradesh has a literacy rate of 56 per cent — the national average is 65 per cent. Literacy among women stands at 42.98 per cent but the figure falls to 10.69 per cent for Dalit women.

Last year, an ASER study showed that only 31 per cent of Class III students could read even texts meant for Class I. The corresponding figures for Bihar and Rajasthan, two other backward states, are 43.7 per cent and 34.4 per cent.

Similarly, only 20.5 per cent students of Class III can subtract, compared to 45.5 per cent in Bihar and 27.1 per cent in Rajasthan.

Only 14 per cent Class V students in Uttar Pradesh can read a full sentence in English, compared to 31.3 per cent in Bihar.

“There are problems at the grassroots monitoring where panchayats should play a role. This does not happen here. In Nagaland, if a teacher does not turn up for more than three days, his salary is deducted. Here you cannot do this,” said D.K. Singh, a former special secretary with the Basic Education Authority.

Mayavati has been frequently shuffling officers in the Basic Education Authority, whose job is to monitor the implementation of education programmes, sources said. In the three years she has been in power, the nodal officer for the region where the survey was held has changed four times.