BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to provide transport and escort facilities to school children of the habitations in difficult zones.
A proposal to this effect has been approved by the project approval board (PAB) of Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA). Over 1600 students will be covered under the new scheme to be launched by the State Government. According to the proposal, the cost for arranging transport for a student will be Rs 3000. The expenditure will be Rs 41.43 lakh per annum.
However, doubts are being raised on execution of the scheme as the State Government has decided that the cost of transportation will be paid to the beneficiary through account payee cheque. No cash will be paid to the beneficiary towards transport cost.
The State Government, it seems, has decided on the scheme without conducting a survey about how many such primary school students have an account in bank. The decision to launch such a scheme has been taken to comply to the provisions of Right To Education Act and ensure that students do not drop out.
Students, who were admitted to schools in nearby villages after their schools were closed and cover a distance of more than 1.5 km will be given preference for transport and escort facility, State project director of OPEPA, Mahendra Kumar Mallik, said in a letter to all district Collectors.
Besides, children of habitations in deep forest area who are deterred to attend schools because of fear of wild animals will also be given preference, Mallik said and added that if a student faces any barrier during rainy season due to river/trench, he will be provided transport and escort facility.
Separate records will be maintained for transport and escort facility to ensure proper implementation of the scheme. Besides, monthly review of implementation of this new scheme will be conducted at cluster, block and district levels to assess the impact on students who are availing the transport facility.
The State Government had decided to close down 165 primary schools for having less than five students.