Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rs 600-crore cut may hit Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in state

Rs 600-crore cut may hit Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in state

Published: 25th November 2013 12:29 PM
Last Updated: 25th November 2013 12:29 PM
Schools in Tamil Nadu are in for a substantial blow this year, thanks to the drastic cut in the budget for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme that provides funds for the development and maintenance of schools from Class 1-8.
The budget has been reduced from around Rs 2,000 crore till last year to just Rs 1,400 crore this year, leading to complete rollback of crucial programmes meant for schoolchildren.
“The amount has been much lesser than the previous years. The total budget released would be largely used to pay the salaries of teachers, with very little remaining for other developmental projects. So we will have to cut down on some of the projects,” said State project director of SSA, Pooja Kulkarni.
In fact, even last year, the Central Government failed to provide the budget announced for the year. Though Rs 2,000 crore was announced, only Rs 1,400 crore was the effective payment for the year. This has meant that many of the projects, especially in building new classrooms and toilets in schools, had to be left midway. “The State government had to pay up much of the remaining cost from its own budget last year,” said Kulkarni.
This time around, among the biggest casualties would be differently-abled students. Under the Integrated Education of Disabled Children (IEDC) of the SSA, the differently-abled students were being given the recommended nutritious food. This one being different from the mid-day meal, could not be given from the meal scheme. But this year, the cut down on the budget would mean that the food is denied.
Another area that will see huge cuts is the training of teachers. Taking note of the abysmal teaching standards at the primary levels in schools, the government had began evolving teaching models based on practical learning, activity-based learning, computer-based learning, etc. These would take a hit as this year’s funds would be enough only to train 40 per cent of the teachers in these methodologies.
Even schemes like Activities-Based Learning (ABL) programmes are hit since there is a fund crunch in printing the ABL cards used to teach students under the programme. While till two years ago about 42,000 card sets were printed, this year, there is provision to print only 7,000 sets.
Meanwhile, some of the successful programmes which were to be extended will not be able to take off this year. The programme to provide transportation to children to reach schools in remote areas was to be extended to all 32 districts.
The programme is aimed at reducing dropout rates of students from remote areas who would have difficulty in accessing schools.
Under the programme, jeeps, vans and even boats were provided to school students. But the project was cut down and now remains restricted to eight districts, leaving aside several districts with large tracks of hilly areas such as Dindigul and Krishnagiri.

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