Following curtailment in budget allocation, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided to merge the centrally sponsored education schemes throughout the country.
For this, the authorities in MHRD have delayed the Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting for 2018-19 till April which was earlier scheduled to be held on January 6 this year.
Interestingly, various centrally sponsored schemes including Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Mid-Day Meals (MDM) are under implementation in J&K under different parameters and guidelines.
"But now the MHRD has decided to merge SSA, RMSA, MDM and SIE (teacher training) and run under one domain," a top official in school education department said.
Also, MHRD has renamed State Institute of Education (SIE) to State Institute of Education and Training (SIET).
"The reason behind merger is shortfall in budget allocation. This year they are yet to finalize the budget and had no option other than to postpone the PAB meeting," the official said.
The official said the budget allocation for education sector in government of India was earlier reduced from Rs 43000 crore to Rs 23000 crore and this year it is not even Rs 15000 crore.
"The curtailment in budget prompted MHRD to merge the schemes and ultimately it will have its impact on implementation in state like J&K because the purpose behind merging of schemes is cost cutting," the official said.
The official said there were apprehensions that MHRD may wind up some components of existing schemes and will ask for a single plan during PAB meeting.
"Situation can be alarming given the reduction in budget allocation for education sector. It is going to affect this year and salary crises may rise again," he said.
According to officials the funds will be released at the ratio of 60:20:20. "60 percent funds will be a recurring grant for salary while as 20 percent funds will be utilized for infrastructural development and remaining 20 percent will be utilized for teacher training programme," he said.
Under RMSA, the official said state government was already overburdened given the deficit in allocation of funds for "wrongly promoted masters in J&K state."
"MHRD had planned to recruit subject specific masters on consolidated basis and provide them Rs 27160 per month. But state government wrongly promoted in-service teachers as masters which elevated their grade," the official said, adding that these masters were paid Rs 70,000 per month against sanctioned Rs 30,000.
"The deficit amount is managed by state government."
Earlier, secretary MHRD in a review meeting convened in Srinagar last year had stated that J&K state was utilizing all the funds on salary of teachers while no intervention was done in teacher training programme.
Minister for education Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari confirmed that MHRD has planned to merge the schemes and said the PAB meeting is likely to be convened in April this year.