In-Principle approval to ‘School Support System’
Worried over huge school infrastructural gap, the State Government has given in-principle approval to ‘School Support System which would enable schools to receive help in kind from individuals and corporate houses.
“Detailed guidelines on SSS are being worked out. Individual school can now receive kind from general public and corporate houses. But the assistance would not be accepted in cash,” said School and Mass Education Secretary Aparajita Sarangi.
She said kind could come under 12 categories such as construction of boundary, development of kitchen garden, setting up of laboratory or library, donation of sports instruments and provision of drinking water system or toilets.
Interested donors could take up the issue directly with head masters or Village Education Committee that has been empowered to facilitate receipt of donations, Ms. Sarangi said.
Moreover, education officers at district level have been asked to play the role of facilitator. “We will duly acknowledge the contributions,” Ms. Sarangi said.
Initially, monitoring cell will operate from education department and gradually it will be decentralised to district level, SME Secretary said.
In fact, in 2001 the State government came up with similar plan called School Adoption Scheme which could not take off. Critics said the scheme was rule-bound and enthusiasm was lacking.
“We have made school support system scheme easier. Donors with different financial strength could fit into the scheme,” she said.
School and Mass Education department sources said 86 per cent of budgetary allocation was spent on payment of salaries to teachers and aid to schools leaving little for infrastructure development.
The State government has only itself to blame for the present crisis. According to CYSD-Orissa Budget and Accountability Centre, a civil society initiative, development of school infrastructure has been neglected over the years.
The Centre says the State government has failed to spend on an average 200 crores annually under Central scheme Sarva Sikshya Abhijan. The result is evident.
As per a survey Orissa stands 27th in the education development infrastructure index out of 35 States and Union Territories in primary and 23rd in upper primary education.
As many as 2270 primary and 82 of upper primary schools have no building of their own. While 83.33 per cent schools are with drinking water facilities, in 57.15 per cent schools have common toilet facility.
Only 34.01 per cent schools have separate toilets for girls and 80 per cent of primary schools do not have ramps. In 21.3 per cent primary and 4.6 per cent upper primary schools are with kitchen shed.