Central funds for computer education unspent
Fearing Censure, Officials Skip Plan Meetings
Srinagar, May 26: In a glaring instance of official apathy and indifference, the funds released by Government of India for computer education in Jammu & Kashmir are lying unutilized for last five years.
Fearing censure for non-utilization of funds, the State Government has skipped the meetings convened by Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) during last three years for covering more schools in JK under the program.
Authoritative sources told Greater Kashmir that MHRD had approved the proposal of bringing 200 Higher Secondary Schools under Centrally sponsored scheme - Information & Communication Technology (ICT) program – in the state way back in 2007-08.
“The project was given green signal during the meeting of Project Monitoring and Evaluation Group (PMEG) headed by the Secretary Secondary and Higher Education, MHRD, five years ago,” they said, adding that Rs 5.70 crores were released as first installment in the same year for undertaking the program.
The funds, according to the sources, couldn’t be utilized during the initial two years prompting the state government to get the scheme re-validated (shifting of program to next year) twice from MHRD.
According to them, later the process for procurement of computers was initiated by School Education Department in 2009, but Finance Department aborted its move of “direct procurement.”
“The Finance Department raised objection over direct purchases by invoking Cabinet order which says that all computer related purchases should be done through Information & Technology (IT) Department. But circular issued by IT department says that purchase should be made by concerned department. Both the orders were contradictory and thereby purchases couldn’t be made,” sources said, adding, “Education Department did not even bother to seek clarification after Finance Department objected,” they said.
“There was no further follow up to get funds utilized during last two years,” they added. Although officials overtly claim that contradictory orders delayed utilization of funds, but they privately say tussle between two ministers was responsible for depriving students from getting computer education.
“Both (ministers) were at loggerheads with each other over procurement as one of them wanted to favour his kin, while other wanted to benefit his blue-eyed person,” they said.
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Scheme was launched in December, 2004 by GOI to provide opportunities to secondary stage students to mainly build their capacity on ICT skills and make them learn through computer aided learning process.
During the second year of the scheme, 140 Higher Secondary Schools in the state were brought under the program and that time purchases were made through IT department.
Not only JK government failed to utilize money pumped by the Centre, but it did not attend the meetings convened by MHRD to consider computer education plans of the state.
“In 2009 and 2011, the meetings of PMEG were scheduled to consider state proposal of bringing Higher Secondary Schools but nobody from JK turned up both times as they feared embarrassment from Central Ministry for non-utilization of funds,” an official of Education Department told Greater Kashmir.
“The non-utilization of funds reflects lackluster approach of state government towards education. It is irony that other states have got hundreds of crores and brought thousands of schools under the program, JK has failed to expend the small amount,” he added.
When contacted, Joint Director Planning (Education) Muhammad Rafiq Matto said that procurement and contradictory orders hampered the purchases.
Commissioner Secretary, School Education Department, Farooq Ahmad Faktoo said he is unaware of the matter.
“I will look into the issue,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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