The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out serious discrepancies and mismanagement in all the crucial development projects under implementation in Cachar in an audit conducted in the district for the year ending March 31st, 2010.
Projects in almost all the important sectors such as health, education, planning and infrastructure are suffering due to chronic malaises like delay in completion, cost escalation, poor quality of construction and so on.
In a series of articles, Concern For Silchar will present before you the key findings of the CAG report regarding all the above mentioned sectors so that you can weigh your crucial vote in the upcoming elections better by having an in depth understanding of the state of affairs in your district.
Today, we are starting the series with our focus on school education:
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In its report, the CAG has said that there is an urgent need to improve the state of infrastructure in the district’s schools. The audit also expresses concern that scholarship schemes meant for the needy are not reaching them in the absence of a comprehensive database of the students.
“Many schools in the district were lacking basic infrastructure/facilities and the scholarship schemes were not effectively managed as a database of the actual students to be covered and its periodical updation for assessing the requirement of funds was not being maintained which deprived and delayed the benefits of the scholarships to the eligible students,” the audit report said.
A review of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the flagship literacy programme of the government, reveals that there has been a marginal increase in the number of primary and upper primary schools in the district from 2,019 in 2005 to 2,168 in 2010. However, surprisingly, the enrolment rate in the target age group of 6 to 14 has decreased in the last five years from 2,99,403 in 2005 to 2,74,338 in 2010. However, the report claims that despite the decrease in enrolment of children, the percentage of out of school children had decreased from 63 percent in 2005-006 to 11 percent in 2009-10.
In a damning revelation, the report finds that the state of infrastructure of the government schools in the district is massively deficient. Out of the 270 high and higher secondary schools in Cachar, 127 do not have pucca buildings, two schools are running in rented accommodations, 127 schools do not have separate toilets for boys and girls, 139 schools do not have power connection, 127 schools do not have safe drinking water facilities and nine schools have no laboratories for the science students.
Out of the 1,720 primary schools, 741 needed major repairs and 422 needed minor repairs. That means only 541 schools had the necessary infrastructure. The condition of the upper primary schools is also pathetic. Out of the 448 schools, a majority were in need of immediate repairs. More over, most of these schools are operating with a one room or at best two room set up which is grossly inadequate.
The state government has not conducted any survey or collected information from the schools regarding the enrolment of SC/ST students to ensure that the targeted group is given due financial assistance. Currently, scholarships are being dished on the basis of the applications received. Under such an arrangement, many undeserving candidates may also get the assistance.
Under the Mid Day Meal Scheme, the district administration is providing only 144 feeding days to primary students against the requirement of 222 days and 64 feeding days to the upper primary students against the requirement of 205 days per year. Improvement of nutritional status of the children availing the Mid Day Meal scheme has also not been assessed so far.
In its recommendations, the CAG has said that the “basic infrastructure/ facilities should be provided on a priority basis in all the schools, especially at the elementary level, to ensure an appropriate environment for teaching and learning. Appropriate steps should be taken by the Education Department to arrest the declining trend in enrolment in the schools. ”
Indeed, the CAG report presents an extremely disturbing situation in the district. While the middle class people are managing to send their wards to private and missionary ‘English medium’ schools, the infrastructure for the economically backward people in the villages in appalling to say the least. If we are providing our children with such a pathetic education set up, how can we expect them to grow in to responsible citizens?