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Bathinda

Posted at: Jun 12, 2018, 12:29 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2018, 12:29 AM (IST)BETTER BATHINDA EDUCATION- IV

Fund crunch haunts govt schools

Fund crunch haunts govt schools
The government schools have also not been getting regular school maintenance grant in the district. Tribune photo

Nikhila Pant Dhawan

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 11

Shortage of rooms, shabby or insufficient number of toilets, dilapidated or absence of boundary walls and inadequate infrastructure – these are some of the problems that the government schools in the district are facing. The real reason behind these issues is an acute fund crunch that the schools are reeling under.

Barred from taking admission fee or any other kind of charges from the students up to Class VIII, the government schools have been at the receiving end of government apathy as it has not been releasing the share of funds to the schools.

“Under the Panchayati Raj system, the schools used to get grant of Rs 500 per teacher every year for teaching and learning material. This fund was meant to help the teachers of the schools buy goods, materials and tools required to prepare models or aid them in teaching the students. It’s been more than five years since the TLM grant has been released by the government,” said ETT teacher Jagsir Sahota.

The schools have also not been getting school maintenance grant. The annual maintenance grant, which was fixed at Rs 5,000 per school, has also not been released for the past two years.

To use the maintenance grant, the school management committees had to first hold a meeting and pass a resolution to decide the goods to be bought for school from the grant.

Aiming to help the school authorities carry out minor repairs and maintenance works on the school premises, the schools used to get another annual grant of Rs 7,500 for these tasks.

For spending this grant too, the SMCs were required to hold a meeting and pass a resolution to decide how to spend this grant. The schools have not been getting this grant for the past several years.

Retired government school teacher Rakesh Narula said, “The government has adopted a lax attitude towards releasing funds to the government schools to pay the electricity bills. In several villages, the power connections of schools have been cut while in other schools, the school staff are pooling money to continue the power supply.”

On condition of anonymity, principal of a senior secondary government school, explained, “Under the Right to Education Act 2009, the government schools can’t charge fee from students up to class VIII. Even after that, education of the students belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes is free. Before the implementation of this rule, the students were to pay Rs 5 as annual fee, which was not too much.”

The principal added that the schools authorities were left with no option but to spend from their own pockets to carry out necessary works on the school premises.

“The school staff sometimes pay for services of sweepers. There is a shortage of class IV employees too,” the principal said.

Sources in the Education Department said most of the grants, which used to be sent to the schools, were released under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA). While about 65 per cent of these grants were released by the Central Government, the remaining 35 per cent was to be paid by the state government.

SSA RMSA Teachers’ Union leader Deepak Bansal said since the schools were in dire straits, they were largely dependent on philanthropists, NGOs and panchayats for help them wade through the financial crunch.

“The schools located in rural areas have better infrastructure as the village panchayats are always willing to help. There are several examples wherein the panchayats have pitched in not only to pull the school out of financial crunch but also make the school infrastructure exemplary. The delay in releasing grants is, however, degrading the standard of education in the government schools,” Bansal said.

District Education Officer (Secondary) Maninder Kaur said, “Earlier this year, the government schools were given Rs 1,000 each under the funds released by the Central Government as part of the Swachh Bharat campaign. As for the other grants, the schools will get the money as and when the grants are released by the State Education Department.”

Admitting the fact that the Education Department had not released grants, the DEO said, “When the department asks for funds, we send our proposal. We distribute the funds when we get these. Recently, the Deputy Commissioner had held a meeting and asked the Education Department about the requirement. We had submitted our report and are hoping to get some funds from there.”

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