Wednesday, June 17, 2009

5L more Bihar kids 'school chale'

PATNA: "Roke se na ruke hum, suraj sa chamke hum, school chale hum..." Remember the melodious jingle composed for the government of India's Sarva
Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)? The `School Chale Hum' programme under the SSA has turned out to be one of the most successful endeavours in Bihar with nearly five lakh out-of-school children being brought back to schools under it during the last two years.

In fact, the efforts of Bihar government under the SSA programme, which aims to bring quality elementary education to millions of children, have yielded positive results. Not only has the state been allocated the highest budget, but it has also sent back a record number of children to classrooms.

The success of the programme has now created a need for strengthening the secondary education infrastructure across the country.

As HRD principal secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said, "Bihar's allocation under SSA for the current year is even more than UP, which is about Rs 4,300 crore. The state made optimum utilisation of its allocation last year also and the results are not far to seek. We have already sent back a record number of kids between the age group of 6 and 14 back to school."

At present, out-of-school children in the age-group of 6-14 years has come down to 3 per cent in 2009 from 13.1 per cent in 2005.

Programme officer Ravi Shankar Singh of Bihar Education Project (BEP), which is the state implementing agency of SSA, said, "Out of the approved budget, 60 per cent is sanctioned by the Central government, while the rest 40 per cent is shared by the state government. Now approximately 6 lakh (5,22,586) children are out of school, while over five lakh children have been sent back to classrooms."

Similarly, the proportion of out-of-school girls in the state has also dropped from 20.1 per cent in 2005 to 2.92 per cent in 2009, added BEP sources.

What lends further credence to the efforts of the state is that the maximum number of children who have started going back to school are Muslims and SCs. In March 2008, the Muslim child population in Bihar in the age group 6-14 was 33.06 lakh and of them only 2.83 lakh were out of school. The number of out-of-school Muslim children now stands at 1.52 lakh, while 1.57 lakh SC students are yet to attend school.

HRD official also said, "It is indeed one of the most successful flagship programmes. Given the background, in early 2000, when educational infrastructure had almost collapsed and fund utilisation was minimum, the SSA proved its worth. One lakh clasrooms and 2.14 lakh teachers are now visible in the state."

SSA, apart from being a programme with clear time frame for elementary education, also offers opportunities to states to develop their own vision of elementary education. It has set 2010 as the deadline for providing useful and relevant elementary education to all children in the 6 to 14 age group.

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