The Centre has approved a Rs 3,300-crore budget for the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) scheme in Bihar for the fiscal 2007-08 – Rs 900 crore more than last year's allocation. Of this, Rs 1,300 crore would be used on civil works, including construction of school buildings and classrooms while the rest will be for teachers' salary, training et al.
Last year, the state had got an allocation of Rs 2,400 crore. Of that, the Centre's share was Rs 1,800 crore (75 per cent), while the state's was Rs 600 crore (25 per cent). The Rs 3,300- crore allocation for the current fiscal includes Rs 600 carried forward from last year.
At a meeting of the officials of the state and the union government in New Delhi, the initiatives for revamping school education, large-scale recruitment of teachers, development of schools was appreciated. Those who attended the meeting included Union Education Secretary Champak Chaterjee, Joint Secretary Brinda Swaroop and other senior officials. From the Bihar side, Principal Secretary, HRD, Dr MM Jha, and Bihar Education Project Council Director Anjani Kumar Singh, participated.
Jha told the
that hike in SSA allocation was a reflection of the endorsement of the good work and proper utilisation by Bihar in the sphere of school education. "We told them that the number of children out of school had been brought down from 24 lakh to around 15 lakh due to concerted efforts, including the novel initiative of using police as the agents of change," he added.
It is, however, not yet certain what would be the state's share in the SSA this year. The Centre had earlier this year announced its decision to reduce its share from the earlier 75 per cent to 50 per cent. Bihar had pleaded during the National Development Council (NDC) meeting for continuance of the 75:25 share of the Centre and the state respectively.
It also made a strong plea for continuance of 75 per cent central assistance in the 11th Plan at a meeting of the Planning Commission's steering committee on education in New Delhi. There is no final word on that, though the state government is hoping that the Centre would consider Bihar's case sympathetically in the changed scenario.
If the Centre agrees to the state's request, Bihar's share would come down to Rs 825 crore. However, if the state has to give 50 per cent share, it may have to give Rs 1650 crore to avail the fund. In that case, the state would also need to make additional provisions of funds for SSA, as it does not even have a budgetary provision of this magnitude.