Saturday, June 18, 2011

SSA in trouble over decision on MHRD fund


Express News Service , The New Indian Express
Posted on Jun 18, 2011 at 03:27pm
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is not just the mishandling of funds in printing books or the countless exposure trips of its officials which had landed the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the state in a soup. It was the decision to split up the fund allocated by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) for teachers’ training into various components, giving loopholes for corruption, that boomeranged on the SSA.

The latest controversy in which the SSA finds itself in, leading to a Vigilance inquiry, is about usurping Rs 75 from the Rs 200 granted to a teacher attending the training programme. This has risen out of this decision.

While the teachers’ organisations such as GSTU (Government School Teachers Union), which had petitioned the Chief Minister about the ‘corruption’ in the SSA, alleges that a fair share deserved by the teachers was denied to them, the SSA’s decision was actually to spent half of the funds for teaching materials and other for documentation works. The amount of Rs 125 was alloted as mess allowance and the rest set aside for training aids.

However, this amount was misused by some districts and some centres derailing the objective of the SSA’s decision and inviting the wrath of the teacher community.

A circular issued by the SSA State Project Director on April 12, 2011 elaborates on the way the amount of Rs 200 should be spent on each teacher.

It says that Rs 125 should be given as mess allowance, Rs 25 for preparing materials, carry bags, kits or other guides, the rest of the money is split into Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 7.5 and Rs 2.5 to be spent to set up classrooms, provide necessary infrastructure, documentation, honorarium for resource persons and so on.

‘’The honorarium for a teacher was Rs 60 until last year. When MHRD hiked it to Rs 200, we thought of identifying better avenues to spent the money,’’ an SSA official clarified. But the idea had opponents.

“It was Rs 200 that MHRD had sanctioned for a teacher, then they deserved the total amount,’’ GSTU president J Sasi said.

But many schools and teachers would agree that the materials provided during the training were of high quality; that print-outs, photostats and infrastructure settings such as buying fans or chairs might have cost a large sum.

Though teachers’ organisations feel that it was not unnecessary for the SSA to classify the amount into various components, there are voices of dissent too.

"The State Government provides remuneration to a teacher for attending the training. For a 10-day programme, a teacher gets a salary of five days. By the end of the training, a teacher earns nearly Rs 7,000. Then why all this furore for about Rs 75 is not known,’’ a government school teacher, who preferred anonymity, said.

Though it drew out a chart for the spending, SSA forgot to ensure that it is well implemented by its district centres and BRCs, which has now proved costly for them.

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