The scope of the implementation of the Samagra Shiksha scheme has been 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 government education sector of J&K in terms of academics as well the infrastructural up gradation.
Notably the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA), has given its approval for continuation of the revised Samagra Shiksha Scheme for a period of five 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 and UTs including the J&K UT.
Going by our past experience, most of the interventions aimed at enhancing academic or infrastructural standards have gone down the drain in J&K due to the poor implementation of the schemes and laxity of the successive regimes to reap the benefits of these schemes.
The successive regimes in J&K have poorly performed in terms execution of civil works or mainstreaming of out of school children or improving the teaching learning outcomes of the students for the government of India had come up with certain interventions which needed to be implemented for improving the education standards.
Now that there has been an incorporation of Samagra Shiksha with various components of NEP-2020 therefore one can hope for major reforms in coming years.
The major components of the scheme will be based on a certain pattern for which the norms for the financial assistance available under the scheme have been already framed by the GoI while the States and UTs 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 three years and maximum up to five 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 or UT to complete the pending works. The DSEL has also stated that the civil works approved prior to 2021, the time limit of three years will be calculated from the current year.
Over the years, the school education department has miserably failed to complete the civil works in a time bound manner due to which work on more than 10084 school buildings is yet to be taken up by the school education department for the past more than a decade. The school education department has also left 2191 buildings unattended which have been left midway by the contractors under the pretext of cost escalation.
After that the department did not bother to make some efforts to complete the construction of these school buildings. Now with the introduction of new norms, the education department is expected to meet the target for completing the work on school buildings in a time bound manner.
Also, the flow of funds to SCERTs, DIETs will be as decided by the concerned State or UTs. 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 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).
Following the new interventions in Samagra Shiksha in line with NEP-2020, all children in the age group of 6-9 years will have access to foundational schooling and achieve foundational skills by grade 3. The DSEL has stated that all the states and UTs will prepare their own guidelines for innovatively engaging peer groups and other local volunteers in contributing towards the goal of achieving FL&N for all grade 3 students.
States and UTs will particularly prepare guidelines for parent's engagement as mentors or resources or volunteers in school to help the FLN mission.
For proper implementation of the revised Samagra Shiksha all the states and UTs will have to prepare an implementation framework consisting of roadmaps and annual action plans for implementing the activities covering all the focus areas of FL&N mission.
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. The school children enrolled in residential schools and hostels are provided safe practical transport facilities to have hassle free access to education.
But in J&K, all eyes will be on government to implement it in letter and spirit as in past many decades, the government has failed to provide adequate infrastructure for the students enrolled in government schools and due to which the students in majority of the schools are seen taking for the students under open sky in 21 century. The government has failed to fill the infrastructural gaps in schools despite having ample funds available under various schemes.
The revised scheme has a special focus on curtailing dropout rates of students and to ensure universal access to education at all levels besides providing support in infrastructure from Pre-Primary to grade 12. For this all the states and UTs have been asked to prepare a comprehensive ten- years projection report on the need for adequate resources in all schools.
In case of J&K UT, it will be highly unpredictable to say that all the goals will be achieved in accordance with the scheme as the department in past has failed to properly implement the scheme. From completion of school buildings to have permanent campuses for residential KGBV schools and from increasing enrollment in schools to controlling school dropouts or out of school children, the department has failed to showcase any good performance on ground.
Now that the DSEL, GoI has granted extension to revised Samagra Shiksha, all eyes will be on the J&K government to meet the standards set by the Government of India under the scheme so that the students can reap the benefits of the scheme. Unlike previous years, let the J&K’s education department set its standard high which will be at par with other states and UTs.