Vigilance inquiry to cast a shadow on SSA
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Vigilance inquiry against Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has come at a time when it was gearing up to don a giant role. That of being the implementing agency of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) in the state. The allegations and inquiry have cast a shadow on its credentials and is sure to pose major hurdles on its path. The inquiry also signals the possibility of a revamp of the project in the state which threatens to remove the whole objective of SSA in the state. The project which thrives on academic innovations through community participation and student development in the elementary section (up to Standard VIII) would be secretly curtailed as its utilisation of funds have already come under the scanner. While implementation of RTE would see additional funds bestowed upon the SSA, the flexibility of being an agency to implement it would be lost. How far it would be able to play the role of an implementing agency would largely depend on how far the State Government is willing to redirect its focus rather than kill its spirit. The new government could also decide to vest the control of the project under the Education Department just the way the DPI has been given the implementing role of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) which is a continuation of SSA.“There has been allegations about fund misuse and financial discrepancies in SSA over the past few years. Still, it had been a boon to many schools to reinvent themselves by planning new schemes and child-friendly projects. There also was a flexibility in the project which was free from departmental stresses as it was Central-funded and first answerable to the Ministry for Human Resources Development (MHRD). In the name of dubious financial dealings and political meddling, a larger threat looms over the future of a school-friendly project. That the Left-organisations explored its capabilities as a funding organ has made matters worse,” said a top official with the Education Department. Ever since SSA project took roots in the state, there have been considerable changes in the other-wise weakened government schools. SSA designed numerous projects, forced teachers to rethink about their roles and build a situation where schools competed to come up with innovative projects of their own. The ‘mikavu’ programme was one such. The latest intervention of SSA in tracking child abuse cases in schools with the support of Kerala State Mahila Samakhya Society was proving to be a revolutionary step. The future of these programmes would have to face a severe test now.A day after he claimed he has no knowledge about any Vigilance inquiry against SSA, Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb did a volte-face on Sunday when he told Express that he was aware of the inquiry. “I was informed about it when the order was out,” he said
CM orders vigilance probe into SSA functioning
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Leaving the Education Minister in the dark and dumping the decorum of departmental beats, the Chief Minister has ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) project in the state.The inquiry follows a complaint given by pro-Congress organisation Government School Teachers Union (GSTU) which raised serious allegations on the fund-spending mode of SSA and the lack of transparency in its dealings during the past five years.While the Chief Minister is learnt to have given the go-ahead to the Vigilance for an inquiry two days ago, probably because he holds the portfolio, the Education Minister was in the dark about it when Express contacted him on Saturday. “I have not issued any order. No such inquiry has come to my knowledge,” Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb said. Meanwhile, sources said that the inquiry had been ordered to look into the spending of SSA in the past five years, role of pro-Left organisations in gaining many components in the SSA such as printing of books, implementation of projects such as ‘Ente Maram’ and the real nature of the umpteen foreign and national tours taken by SSA top officials including the London tour by a group from Kollam last year.According to the complaint given by GSTU, the child census carried out by the SSA in 2007 was not part of its agenda. But more than Rs 1.25 crore was spent on the census, using the help of Kudumbashree for enumeration.The project had ended up half-baked and a liability for the state SSA. The complaint says that the free distribution of books to students was using the fund of SSA but all the while the State Government had trumpeted that it was distributing books for free. The funds were finally reimbursed from the SSA coffers.