The Central government has approved an increase of 35% in the annual budget of UT’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) which comes out to be approximately ` 70 crore for the current fiscal year 2014-15.
The approval came after the two-day project approval board’s meeting that concluded on Friday at the ministry of human resource development (MHRD), New Delhi.
In 2013-14 fiscal year, approximately ` 52 crore was approved by the central gover nment of which 90% of the amount was the salary component of SSA teachers working in Chandigarh.
An education department official said in the last fiscal year, the ministry concerned made a major cut in the quality education initiatives of the education department.
But this year, as officials said, major thrust has been given to upgrade the school infrastructure as well to improve the quality education in Chandigarh in SSA budget.
“The ministry has approved over ` 12 crore for civil work that will be used to construct a high school in Dhanas, adding more rooms in the government schools besides general maintenance of the schools, said director public relations (schools) Kamlesh Kumar.
Kumar said the ministry also g ave g reen signal to several quality education programmes under SSA for which no major funding was received last year. It included BaLA (Building as Learning Aid) project and several other projects.
Sources said the MHRD also agreed to make a provisional salary arrangement for vacant SSA teaching posts.
Nearly 200 of 1,375 sanctioned posts under SSA in UT are currently vacant. Out of this, more than 120 teachers have resigned for better opportunities in neighbouring states. The rest of 70 to 80 seats belong to ex-servicemen category, which could not be filled last year due to lack of eligible candidates. The department had planned to de-reserve these seats and give to it waiting list candidates of General category but required permission could not be sought for the purpose.
Kumar said due efforts would be made to fill these vacant posts at the earliest so that provisional budget approved by the ministry could be used at the earliest.
SSA GOVERNING COUNCIL LYING DEFUNCT
Meanwhile, the Governing Council of the Chandigarh Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) Mission Society is literally lying defunct at present.
The society was established in 2003 under the Society Registration Act. Its main purpose was to periodically review and ensure better coordination for the implementation of SSA funds in an effective manner in the UT.
Several educationists in the city said: “We need an ef fective gover ning council since the annual funding to the UT under the SSA has increased over the years. After the Right to Education Act in 2010, the SSA is now primarily used for funding the implementation of the said act, which makes it even more important to have a strong council.”