One of the biggest government sponsored education programmes of the world — Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) of the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry — is expected to get bigger from the next financial year.
While the Planning Commission is expected add over Rs 5,000 crore more in the existing Rs 15,000 crore scheme from the next financial year, the HRD ministry has decided to incorporate all teacher-training programmes under SSA.
“The idea is to further improve quality of education in government schools. Under SSA, district committees would monitor teacher training programmes like any other scheme under the Abhiyan,” a senior ministry official said, adding the budget for the scheme is expected to be increased to over Rs 30,000 crore by the year 2010.
Despite huge funds provided by the ministry to district teacher-training centers, also called DIET, for training of primary and upper primary level teachers, the results have not been of the desired levels.
“Still absenteeism of teachers and drop out rate of students in government schools is very high. It is indicative of quality of education being delivered. Bringing teachers’ training under SSA will improve monitoring of the training programmes and the results achieved,” a senior official explained.
The need for including teacher training in SSA is also felt as in the 11th five-year plan the scheme is likely to expanded to include secondary level schools — an additional expenditure of Rs 3,000 crores.
The ministry plans to open new schools in un-served areas, provide flexible schooling to elder children who have never enrolled in school and children in difficult circumstances. “The rigorous monitoring will then include the teachers’ performance also,” an official said. That’s not all. Another success story of the HRD ministry, mid-day meal scheme appears to be on its way for inclusion in SSA from the 11th plan.
A strong voice is being raised in the ministry to include the scheme in SSA for deriving better results. “Both the schemes work on a similar platform on the village level. Merger of the schemes will bring financial prudence and improve quality of service,” a ministry official said. HRD minister Arjun Singh however, has some other ideas.
He wants to transfer the mid-day meal scheme to the Rural Development Ministry and emphasised this in a letter to the Planning Commission recently. “I don’t know where this proposal has come from. We want the scheme to remain in the ministry and most likely under SSA,” an official said.