Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Improve system

Editorial 2

Recently the scope of implementation of Samagra Shiksha scheme was widened with the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 after introduction of various new norms, modification besides merging and rationalization of existing norms and resultant financial implications. The move by the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), Government of India has raised certain hopes of bringing certain reforms in the education sector of Nagaland in terms of academics as well as infrastructural up gradation. The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) has also given its approval for continuation of the revised Samagra Shiksha Scheme for a period of 5 years from 2021-22 to 2025-26. In the wake of this the DSEL has come up with the approved programmatic and financial norms of Samaga Shiksha for all states. Going by our past experience, most of the interventions aimed at enhancing academic or infrastructural standards have gone down the drain in Nagaland due to poor implementation of schemes and laxity of successive regimes to reap the benefits of these schemes. Successive regimes have poorly performed in terms of execution of civil works or mainstreaming of out of school children or improving teaching learning outcomes. Now that there has been an incorporation of Samagra Shiksha with various components of NEP-2020 one can only hope for major reforms in the coming years. The major components of the scheme will be based on a certain pattern for which the norms for financial assistance available under the scheme have been already framed by GoI while the states are kept at a liberty to supplement or to augment the provisions for various interventions from their own resources. As per the new norms, for non-recurring expenditure, the DSEL has come up with strict provisions for completion of civil works in a time bound manner for which the government of India under Samagra Shiksha will provide financial assistance for spill over works for 3 years and maximum up to 5 years after the approval. In case the approved works are not completed within a particular time frame, it will become the sole responsibility of the respective state to complete the pending works. The DSEL has also stated that for civil works approved prior to 2021, the time limit of three years will be calculated from the current year. Over the years, our school education department has miserably failed to complete civil works in a time bound manner resulting in works on many school buildings yet to be taken up. Now with the introduction of new norms, the education department is expected to meet the target for completing works on school buildings in a time bound manner. Also, the flow of funds to SCERTs, DIETs will be as decided by the concerned state. However, there will be a single UC for the component and states will be responsible to ensure proper management of accounts and auditing of the same. With this, people can expect some accountability in these research institutes which are otherwise always in news for not any good reasons. As per the new norms, the DSEL has also decided that in order to promote good performance based on the PGI grading, the best performing states and UTs will be given additional grants as decided by the Project Approval Board (PAB). Under the revised scheme, all the states and UTs have to ensure universal access and afford opportunity to all children to obtain quality holistic education from pre-school to class 12th. The education department has to provide effective and sufficient infrastructure so that all students have access to safe and engaging school education at all levels from pre-primary to class 12th upgrading or opening new schools or by strengthening existing schools. All eyes will be on the state government to implement it in letter and spirit as in past many decades, the government has failed to provide adequate infrastructure for students enrolled in government schools. It has failed to fill the infrastructural gaps in schools despite having ample funds available under various schemes. Now that the DSEL, GoI has granted extension to revised Samagra Shiksha, the government must work hard to meet the standards set by government of India under the scheme so that the students can reap the benefits of the scheme. Unlike previous years, let the state education department set its standard high which will be at par with other states.