Amritsar, November 29
At least 93 resource centres in the district catering to education and sports of children with special needs (CWSN) have not received funds for students’ travel under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan from the Central Government. The funds have not been received since April this year, owing to which several students in these resources centres have missed school as their families cannot afford their commuting expenses.
The government runs resource centres at cluster levels in several educational blocks covering the rural border belt. These centres are the epicentre of learning and provide early education and medical support to parents from the BPL or low-income groups, who have CWSN.
The district Education Department has employed 99 inclusive education volunteers (IEVs) since the launch of centres in 2008. These IEVs include qualified special educators and resource volunteers, who as part of the integrated education for the disabled (IED) under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), are running learning programmes at these resource centres and are involved in home-based education which aims to cover the out-of-school children suffering from a severe form of disability.
Under the SSA, these centres received direct funds from the Centre for running schemes, including mid-day meals, sports programmes and providing school commuting allowance, for each students.
Each child with special need is entitled Rs 500 to Rs 700 per month as travel allowance to facilitate them to attend school. “Usually, students at these resource centres come from very poor families and extremely backward rural border belt. At times, the average distance for commuting between their home and school is 10 km to 20 km. Therefore, the SSA entitles them funds for commuting to school. But, the delay in release of funds this year has forced teachers to pay for the travel of students from their homes to schools,” shared a teacher from one of the resource centres.
District Education Officer (Elementary) Rajesh Sharma said usually, the funds under the SSA get delayed every year. “Since these funds come directly from the Central Government without any state interference, we have to send applications for their approval and wait for the release of the amount, which takes almost three to four months. This year, we received funds for mid-day meals and other needs, but travel allowance of children got delayed by eight months.”
Nidhi Gupta, co-ordinator, inclusive education, Mohali, said they had processed the approvals for the funds and the amount would be released soon.
Nidhi further said, “There has been a delay, which usually occurs as the process to invite applications for funds and approvals takes a long time. We would release grants to centres as per their needs within 10 days.”
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