Schools that were ‘upgraded’ on papers only!

In 2014 government announced up gradation of 110 middle schools to high schools, but except for changing the display boards these schools were neither provided the required teaching & non-teaching staff nor the infrastructure

Syed Rizwan Geelani
Srinagar, Publish Date: Sep 23 2018 10:57PM | Updated Date: Sep 23 2018 10:57PM
Schools that were ‘upgraded’ on papers only!GK Photo

At least 110 Government Middle Schools (GMS) which were “upgraded” to next level in 2014 are yet to get required manpower and infrastructure, defeating purpose of providing secondary education to thousands of students in neighborhood. These schools, across different districts of state, were upgraded as Government High Schools under erstwhile centrally sponsored scheme Rashtriya Madhiyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). “But except for changing the name boards of these schools there has been no intervention made by authorities to fulfill all other requirements as per norms,” said an official. He said though creation of teaching staff and other facilities were approved by the government the order has not been implemented so far. After up gradation each High School gets one headmaster, five and two masters and teachers respectively, and one each laboratory assistant, junior assistant, laboratory bearer and orderly. “But none of these schools have been provided with this staff. Even most of these schools don’t have laboratories,” the official said. Without the required teaching staff directorates of school education (DSE) in Jammu and Kashmir regions were asked to start secondary classes in these schools. Subsequently the order was implemented from 2016 academic session. Though the up gradation, as per norms under centrally sponsored scheme, doesn’t require cabinet approval, there was no concurrence to the decision from J&K’s finance and planning departments for approval of financial implications from creation of posts for teaching and non-teaching staff. “The proposal was pushed by MLAs to please vote bank,” said another official, adding recommendations for up gradation of these schools was given by concerned MLAs without keeping in view feasibility and other parameters. He said a survey by the department later proved that none of these schools were eligible for up gradation.

They had no feeding schools in vicinity nor had they adequate infrastructure to accommodate classes up to secondary level. “These schools have minuscule enrollment to secondary classes, largely owing to lack of space and teaching faculty,” the official said. Heads of these schools were neither given drawing and disbursing powers and instead these powers were given to headmasters of adjacent schools or zonal education officers (ZEOs).

These 110 schools isn’t the single instance of misuse of scheme for political gains. In 2014 National Conference-Congress government had ordered up gradation of around 800 schools (middle and high) to next level. However the decision was kept in abeyance by Peoples Democratic Party led government after it came to the fore that there was no prior approval from finance and planning departments.

The RMSA scheme was launched in March 2009 with objective to enhance access to secondary education and to improve its quality. Under the scheme, the middle schools are upgraded to high school by providing additional class rooms, laboratories, libraries, art and crafts room, toilet blocks and drinking water facility. “But in J&K up gradation of school was approved without fulfilling the parameters,” the official said. These “upgraded” schools were approved across different districts.

For instance Ganderbal has 10 such schools - six in Hariganwan zone, two each in Tulmulla and Kangan zone. Likewise Anantnag has three such schools while as summer capital of Srinagar has one school. During the previous PDP led coalition government, state cabinet in October 2017 approved up gradation of another 400 government schools- 200 middle schools and 200 high schools - to the next level. An exhaustive exercise was undertaken to identify the deserving schools. However what baffled the authorities were the findings that none of these 110 upgraded schools fulfilled up gradation criteria.

“We tried to include these schools in fresh list but not a single school qualified under the norms,” said the official. While the issue is hanging in air for past three years the department seems to be least bothered to address it, putting career of students at risk. Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) G N Itoo admitted that secondary classes were started in these schools without creating posts for teaching staff for them. “Till date government hasn’t taken any decision about fate of these schools,” he said, adding a task force constituted by previous regime (PDP-BJP) to review infrastructural facilities of schools was assigned to give recommendation for these 110 schools as well. “But the work stopped after Governor’s rule was imposed in state,” Itoo said.

 

 

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