Centre to merge 3 flagship education schemes, defers 2018-19 fund approval meetings

The three centrally sponsored schemes will be replaced by a new integrated programme for classes 1 to 12.

The three centrally sponsored schemes have been in operation for the past about 15 years for improving the quality of education and infrastructure in government schools at elementary (classes 1 to 8) and secondary (classes 9 and 10) levels.
The three centrally sponsored schemes have been in operation for the past about 15 years for improving the quality of education and infrastructure in government schools at elementary (classes 1 to 8) and secondary (classes 9 and 10) levels.(HT File Photo)
The Union human resource development (HRD) ministry has decided to merge its three flagship education development programmes — Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Scheme of Restructuring and Reorganisation of Teacher Education (STE) — from the new academic year.

The three centrally sponsored schemes, which have been in operation for the past about 15 years for improving the quality of education and infrastructure in government schools at elementary (classes 1 to 8) and secondary (classes 9 and 10) levels, will be replaced by a new integrated programme for classes 1 to 12, said an official of the Punjab school education department who is privy to discussions held with Union school education and languages secretary Anil Swarup in Chandigarh last week. Swarup, who was on an official visit to Chandigarh, reviewed the implementation of the centrally sponsored education programmes in the state.

The meetings of the project approval board scheduled in January and February for approval of the budget proposals of the state governments under these schemes for the financial year 2018-19 have been deferred. “The annual work plan and budget meetings of these schemes for our state were to be held this month, but have been deferred due to administrative exigencies. The new dates are still to be notified,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

The HRD ministry has convened a meeting of top officials of all the states in New Delhi on January 30 for their feedback on the new programme. The integrated scheme for school education, according to a detailed note received by the department from the ministry, will be an overarching programme with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes. The merger of the existing scheme was proposed by Niti Aayog after a detailed assessment.

“A single programme will lead to an optimal utilisation of budgetary allocations and effective use of human resources and institutional structures, besides synergising approaches to improve access, participation, student flow/internal efficiency and equity as far as possible,” reads the note sent by joint secretary, RMSA, Maneesh Garg, to the state’s director general, school education, Prashant Kumar Goyal.

The budget of SSA, RMSA and STE will be merged and the Centre will provide funds on 60:40 sharing basis to most states and 90:10 to north-eastern states and three Himalayan states, including Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. While the states will submit separate plans for each of these schemes at present, the new programme envisages a single plan for the entire school education sector under the new programme.

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