Primary complex: Elementary education gasping for breath

All its ‘Vibrant’ hype apart,Gujarat,according to the latest data,has a pathetic record in terms of attention being paid to elementary education.

Written by Gaurav Sharma | Ahmedabad | Published: February 18, 2009 2:21:15 am

Govt could spend a mere 64% of funds available under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

All its ‘Vibrant’ hype apart,Gujarat,according to the latest data,has a pathetic record in terms of attention being paid to elementary education. In fact,only Jharkhand,among all states in the country,is worse than Gujarat in terms of the percentage of expenditure of available funds under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) outlay for the academic year 2007-08.

According to the data provided by the Department of School Education and Literacy,Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD),the Government of India,out of the total available fund of Rs 43,192.58 lakh,the state government was able to spend only Rs 28,066.29 lakh,a mere 64.98 per cent. It is only marginally better than the poorest performing state,Jharkhand,which could spend 63.91 per cent of the total funds. Elsewhere,states like Tamil Nadu,Rajasthan,Nagaland,Kerala,Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir have all clocked above 90 per cent in terms of expenditure,with Andhra Pradesh reaching a near perfect 99.62 per cent.

The data also lists the state-wise key physical achievements made under the SSA for the same period. It indicates that under SSA,neither any new school nor any EGS Centre was opened in Gujarat. Also,not a single new teacher was appointed during this period.

All this comes as no surprise,as various government and non-governmental agencies have been pointing towards the appalling state of education in the state,for some time now. Starting from the Census 2001 data that listed Gujarat as the 15th ranked state in India in terms of overall literacy and 21st in terms of female literacy,till recently,when the MHRD classified 85 talukas in Gujarat,38 per cent of the total 224,as educationally backward.

Even the quality of education in Gujarat has come under the scanner in recent times. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Rural 2008,funded by UNICEF,Google and Oxfam,which was released in January,had indicated that only 59.6 per cent of rural children in Gujarat are able to read the Standard First Textbooks as against the national average of 66.6 per cent.

The arithmetic abilities in rural areas are also found wanting,as only 43.1 per cent children could do subtraction as compared to the national average of 54.9 per cent,the report mentions.

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