The school education department has failed to ensure timely expenditure of the funds available under Capex and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
This was revealed in a review meeting chaired by the J&K Chief Secretary J&K in the first week of December to review the functioning of the School Education Department (SED).
As per the minutes of the meeting assessed by this newspaper, the Chief Secretary has observed that the expenditure under Capex and CSS was below desired level. “Concerted efforts are required to be taken up by officers after prioritizing the projects for completion in March 2022,” he observed.
He has however stressed for judiciously utilizing the funds in a time bound manner to improve the expenditure and shall be undertaken to eliminate idle or wasteful expenditure. In the meeting, the project director Samagra Shiksha gave a detailed powerpoint presentation indicating progress of schemes implemented by the SED and outcome of the initiatives undertaken by the department.
The Chief Secretary (CS) has further observed that 80 percent schools in J&K are run by the UT government with an enrolment of 53 percent students. “At higher secondary level over 75 percent of students study in UT government schools. Accordingly, a major drive for improving enrolment at elementary level by way of starting kindergartens and preventing dropout of children in the middle classes is needed,” he observed.
The CS has stressed that implementation of New Education Policy (NEP)-2020 including establishment of kindergarten schools in all primary schools should be completed by March 2022.
“Biometric attendance of teaching staff in schools shall be ensured which will help in reducing drop out,” the official document reads.
The CS has stated that emphasis should be on competency building through training institutes of the UT and outside in a time bound manner. “At least one training for each teacher shall be ensured as identified through competency framework,” read the minutes of the meeting.
He has further stressed to start mentoring by every teacher for 10 students including online assessment from next month in a comprehensive manner. “Operationalization of KGBV and connected girls hostel requires a priority to impart quality education. Eco clubs may be operationalized to sensitize them about environmental issues,” he said. In the meeting, the CS has stated that functional toilets, water supply during School hours and electricity were a prerequisite for attracting students and should be made available in all schools by March 31st of 2022.
“Focus shall be laid on vocational education by allowing student's exposure to at least on vocational trade to every student from class 6th onwards from 2022-23,” he said.
In the meeting, the Principal Secretary SED Bishwajit Kumar Singh has stated that the department has taken various initiatives to maintain the learning and minimize its losses.
“JK Board exam at 10th and 12th classes were held in offline mode with 15 percent – 20 percent competency based questions. In class 8th, competency based MCQ question papers for one hour exam were used,” he said.
He further informed the meeting that around 2300 kindergartens were already operational leading to around 25 percent increase in enrollment at primary level. “Their impact on drop out at middle level will be reflected after 2024-25,” he said.
He further stated that the mentoring portal was under preparation under Sarnagra Shiksha and complete automation of the transfer drive was under preparation for Annual Transfer Drive (ATD)-2022 with a faceless process.
“Revision of textbooks of history has been completed contextualizing the history of J&K with the world and India,” he said.