While the state government boasts of implementing the Swachh Bharat Mission with zeal and success, the education department has “curtailed” the cleanliness funding for its 33,000 government primary schools in an attempt to “balance” the funding scheme.
Instead of monthly Rs 1,800 per school, the state education department will now disburse the financial assistance based on number of students in a school. To be implemented from 2020-’21, as per the government resolution issued this week, replacing a fixed monthly financial assistance of Rs 1,800, government primary schools with up to 100 students will now get Rs 1,000. Similarly, for schools with a student strength of 101-300, the assistance is Rs 1,800.
According to the data maintained by the department, nearly 50 per cent of the total 33,000 government primary schools across the state have an enrollment of less than 100 students. Owing to the fact that majority of government primary schools have dwindling student strength — the reason why the state government is pushing hard for government school mergers — the changes in the scheme will subsequently affect the assistance offered to the schools.
Secretary for education, Vinod Rao said, “This has been done keeping in mind the number of students in a school.”This is followed by a similar change in the grant under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which is now subsumed into Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. The fixed grant under SSA that was offered to government schools for swachhata kit and repairing work has been changed to student-based grant this year.
Under the Swachhata Sankul Sahay Yojana, funding is given to schools to maintain cleanliness and hygiene on campus, with major focus on toilets.
The scheme which was introduced in 2005-’06 with a financial assistance of Rs 400 per school was revised to Rs 1,800 in 2015-’16. Deliberations to change this from “school-based” to “student-enrollment-based” assistance were going on since April 2019 which is now finally approved and notified.
The state government had already initiated the process of merging of schools with low enrollment citing non-viability as per the education department standards — very few students and high number of teachers — under its ‘school consolidation plan’.
However, this move is facing stiff opposition from the civil society, including villagers, educationists as well as teachers associations citing violations of the Right to Education Act that mandates every child to have free and compulsory education from the age of 6-14 years.
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