Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cut in SSA budget to affect development work in schools

Cut in SSA budget to affect development work in schools

Published: 25th November 2013 03:24 PM
Last Updated: 25th November 2013 03:24 PM
Schools in Tamil Nadu are in for a substantial hit this year, thanks to the drastic cut in the budget of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme that provides funds for the development and maintenance of Classes 1to 8. The budget has been reduced from around `2,000 crore last year to just Rs 1,400 crore this year, leading to a complete rollback of crucial programmes meant for school children.
“The amount has been much less than in previous years. The total budget released will be used to pay the salaries of the teachers with very little remaining for other developmental projects. So we will have to cut down on the projects,” said Pooja Kulkarni, State Project Director of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. In fact even last year, the Central government failed to provide the budget announced for the year. Though Rs 2,000 crore was announced, Rs 1,400 crore was the effective payment for the year. This meant that many of the projects, especially building new classrooms and toilets in schools, had to be abandoned midway. “The State government had to pay much of the remaining cost from its own budget last year,” said Kulkarni.
This time the differently abled students will be the biggest sufferers. Under the Integrated Education of Disabled Children (IEDC) of the SSA, the students were being given nutritious food recommended for them which could not be given through the mid-day meal scheme. But this year the cut in the budget means that this food will be denied.
Another area which will see huge cuts is the training of teachers. Taking note of the abysmal teaching standards in the primary levels, the government had begun evolving teaching models based on practical learning, activity based learning, computer-based learning etc. These will be affected as this year’s funds will be enough to train only 40 per cent of the teachers.
Schemes like activity-based learning (ABL) programmes will be hit without funds to print the ABL cards used to teach students under the programme. While two years back about 42,000 card sets were printed, this year there is provision to print only 7,000 sets.
Some successful programmes, which were planned to be extended, will not be able to take off this year. The programme to provide transportation to school for children in hilly or remote areas was to be extended to all the 32 districts this year.
Jeeps, vans and even boats were provided to school students. But the project was cut down and now remains restricted to eight districts leaving out several districts including large tracts of hilly areas like Dindigul and Krishnagiri.

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