13 years on, SSA falters on infrastructure
Crores of rupees are pumped into the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan every year. Let alone putting every child in school, the agency has failed to ensure completion of proposed projects even 13 years since its inception.
Civil works in schools are a problem area in most districts: only 29 per cent of the sanctioned infrastructural work is complete. Of the `2,378.1 crore allocated for the project over the last 13 years, only 42 per cent, or `993 crore, has been utilised as of September this year.
A total of 4.92 lakh “physical components” such as common toilets, separate toilets for boys and girls, libraries and classrooms were allocated for various districts under the project. The other components include toilets for Children With Special Needs (CWSN), electricity, drinking water, compound walls, furniture and fire extinguishers. Some of these are also mandatory under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 or RTE Act.
The extent of work completed in districts like Yadgir, Tumkur, Koppal and even Bangalore Rural is rather pathetic. Only two of the sanctioned 6,823 components in Yadgir and 49 of the 2,760 in Raichur are complete. In Koppal and Bangalore Rural, the data shows that work has not even started.
To bring more transparency in the project, the SSA created an online portal called ‘Vidyavahini’ to show complete details of all projects.
While officials blame it on the lack of compliance at the district level, experts say the project lacks proper monitoring.
Subodh Yadav, State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, told Express that in several backward districts, works are not completed on time and blamed the district officials for the lapse.
“Enough measures are being taken by the state machinery, but the officials concerned in the districts have still not initiated the process,” he said.
“Yadgir, Raichur and Gulbarga have not yet initiated the process of properly uploading their data on the Vidyavahini portal. So, even if they have completed a part of the infrastructure in schools, we would not know,” he said. He added that the portal was launched to keep up the pressure on district-level SSA officials.
However, all may not be bad. There are also district that have shown good progress.
Davanagere, for example, has nearly 87 per cent of allocated civil works in place and so has Uttara Kannada at 84.4 per cent. Kodagu, Hassan and Udupi have more than 90 per cent of works complete.
Dileep Ranjekar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation, said the lapses were largely due to lack of accountability on the part of the government in executing education programmes like the RTE Act and the SSA.
“When a state government fails to implement the schemes and does not utilise the funds properly, there is no penalty. So, no thought is given to closely monitoring programmes like the SSA. Monitoring is very critical, but it is not being done properly,” he said.