After Madrasa, its “Saakshar Bharti” for School Education

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Srinagar: In what could turn out to be the biggest scandal in School Education Department after the recent ‘Madrsa Scandal’, the department is reportedly on the verge of failing the centrally sponsored flagship Programme ‘Saakshar Bharti,’ launched by Prime Minster in 2009, which was aimed at improving upon the dismal literacy rate, particularly in women in the country. Sources revealed that the education department in Jammu and Kashmir not only has been putting hurdles in making the programme a success but has also reportedly withheld more than 11 crores released by the Union Human Resource Minstry for the programme, which is in addition to the 30 crores earmarked by the Finance Ministry as state share in the 2011-2012 annual budget which will be ending next month. According to sources, the programme was launched by the Prime Minster on September 8th 2009, however it took Jammu and Kashmir School Education Department one year to actually implement the scheme in the state. It is important to know that all the districts in the state have less than 50 percent literacy among women.
“The Government of India has decided that SAAKSHAR BHARTI would take the unified energies of school education and literacy and higher education down to the village level”, reads a circular issued by Dr Sautam, the then Deputy Secretary to Government of India. However, sources told KNS that the scheme never in fact kicked off the way it did in other states. And if some districts took the initiative to launch the scheme they were not provided the money meant for the scheme. ”We have been actively involved in the scheme for last two years but ironically not a single penny has been paid to us so far”, claims a coordinator of Zila Saksharta Simiti wishing not to be named. He said that though number of districts launched the schme but School Education Department has been reluctant to release the money. Interestingly, Central Government has advised the state governments to engage the volunteers at block, Panchayat and district level for the programme who would be given the handsome remuneration and in this regard large scale engagement was made in almost all the districts of the state, however, the engaged volunteers claim to have not got a single rupee for the last one year. “We have been conducting the programmes, evaluation and other environment building programmes in various areas, but School Education Department is not releasing the expenditures incurred on these programmes, leave alone our remuneration”, alleged a district level coordinator. Surprisingly, a circular from the Joint Director Planing, School Education Department is substantiating the coordinator’s claim. The circular No. Edu/PLAN-SE/179/2009 Dtd. 15-11-2010 reads, “Chairman Zila Lok Shiksha Samiti, Block Lok Shiksha Samiti and Panchayat Lok Shiksha Simiti may start the process for setting up of adult Education Centers for which they will have to identify buildings/space for Adult Education Centre, assessment of physical requirements of AEC’s, start survey by printing of survey forms and members of Gram Panchayats to be surveyed.” The same letter, a copy of which is with KNS reads, “Funds earmarked under Annual plan 2010-2011 are being drawn centrally at the secretariat level and for that the concurrence of the finance department has been obtained.”
Sources have further revealed to this agency that the funds were never released to the concerned thereafter. KNS has learnt that though the Union HRD Ministry had released about 11 crore rupees in the month of September or October last year these funds have been withheld for unknown reasons. Furthermore the school education department is understood to have not released the 30 crore rupees earmarked in the Annual Budget of 2011-2012.
“MHRD and the state government have released funds for the implementation of Saakshar Bharat Mission for adult literacy during the current financial year. Central Share has been credited into the account of state Bank of India, Srinagar branch and the state’s share is available in the district plan under the Adult Education Sector. For the drawl of this amount Finance department’s concurrence has been obtained.” This is what a letter signed by M.R Matoo, Joint director Planning, School Education Department under no. Edu/Plan-SE/205/2009-2010 Dated 25-11-2011 reads, which has been issued to all DDC’s of the state. However, sources allege that not even a single penny has reached the target population even after the two months have passed.
Meanwhile, a district development Commissioner of Kashmir Province confirmed to KNS on the condition of anonymity that they have not received the amount released by the HRD Ministry. However, he said that the scheme was in full swing in the districts and on honorarium of that of voluntaries could be received from the Education Department, when DDC make a demand of it. KNS made numerous efforts to get a word from the Minister School Education Pirzada Mohd. Syed only to find his cell phone switched off.
-KNS

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