This body (Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan) was borne after its scheduled delivery date. But it is going to be underweight and if it is bickering parents (governments) do not see eye to eye, soon it may even have to be put on a ventilator. Such is the state of SSA in many States. While some State governments have already give it a quite burial whereas for some it is a source of picnic or siphoned of SSA funds to some other purposes.
While the stress on neighbourhood schooling education policy over the past 15 years has increased enrolment at primary level which also caused a proliferation of poor quality of education. To address this problem, the government of Himachal Pradesh decided to consolidate existing schools and shifted its focus from ‘access’ to ‘quality’ education. The intent of the government has paid dividend if the facts sheet of government is of any indication.
The state reports better Pupil Teacher Ratio than the threshold of 30:1 mandated by the Right To Education Act. On an average it is 10 while that for primary and upper primary schools PTR is below 17. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for both boys (104.83) and girls (104.46) across rural and urban areas is above 100 compared to national average 99 for both boys and girls. While during 2009-2014, the state has recorded 18 per cent enrolment decrease in primary schools and 23 per cent decrease was recorded in upper primary schools. Enrolment of children in primary schools decreased to 3.61 lakh from 4.40 lakh while in case of upper primary schools it decreased to 2.53 lakh from 3.26 lakh.
The credit goes to state government initiatives. Physical infrastructure has been a priority for the government. Over 78 per cent classrooms are in good condition. There are only 304 primary schools with single room and 250 upper primary schools.
While reaching out the official of the education directorate on telephone said that state has opened new schools; creating additional space in existing schools; improving infrastructure; opening of AIE Centres to serve as preparatory schools. While the state has 5.62 per cent drop-out rate in 2012-13 has come down to 4.13 per cent in 2015 which again declined to 0.68 per cent among boys and 1.06 per cent among girls at primary level and in case of upper primary level it is 0.81 per cent among boys and 1.16 per cent among girls in 2016, stated he.
Out of 17,956 schools in total, 17,206 schools are in rural areas in the state. There are 10,724 schools that impart only primary education of which 98 per cent are in rural areas. Only 2599 schools are privately managed just 24 per cent of these schools are primary. Almost all the rural government-run schools have the potential for consolidation.
Mr Daleep Verma, Planning (SSA) revealed that funding pattern under SSA between the Central government and the States/UTs in the ratio of 65:35 for the first two years (2007-09); 60:40 for the third year 2009-10; 55:45 for the fourth year (2010-11 and 50:50 for 2011-12 onwards. Given tough terrain of this hilly state coupled with decrease in funds threatened the future of the flagship programme, he says.
True, consolidation may call for high initial costs but better results in future.