The Planning Commission has rejected the HRD ministry’s proposal to upgrade the UPA government’s flagship scheme, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), to the secondary level.
After the success of SSA, the ministry had proposed to bring all government schools till secondary level under the ambit of the scheme, under its universalisation of education plan. For this, it has asked for an annual grant of over Rs 5,000 crores to cover classrooms of classes IX and X. The annual cost of SSA till upper primary level is about Rs 11,000 crores.
The HRD ministry wanted the Centre to bear the costs for upgradation of the classrooms, including infrastructure and teaching. The Centre’s allocation would have been 75 per cent whereas the state had to bear the burden of remaining 25 per cent, the ministry had proposed.
Not willing to spare the money in the 11th five-year plan as desired by HRD ministry, the Commission refused to bear the cost at 75:25 ratio as prescribed by the ministry and costs for appointing teachers. “We have already told the ministry that from the next plan the expenditure will be equally shared between the Centre and the state,” a senior commission official said.
But, the major objection of the commission was regarding the ministry’s recommendation that the Centre should bear costs for appointing teachers in these schools. “It was just not possible,” the official said, categorically. His explanation was that the teachers appointed at secondary level are on regular pay scales unlike teachers in primary level, who are being hired at a much lesser pay on contract basis.
However, HRD ministry had argued that paying for teacher’s salary would ensure that proper teacher-student ratio is maintained. Or else, infrastructure would be built and there would be no teachers to teach, the ministry had stated. “It is only that the Centre had paid for teacher’s appointment that SSA had succeeded till upper primary level,” an official commented.
The commission has now asked the ministry to redraft the proposal taking into consideration its objections. The ministry had submitted the proposal to upgrade SSA to secondary level in late 2005.