Unsatisfactory implementation of various Centrally sponsored flagship schemes by the State Government has become a sticky issue about which we have been invariably reflecting in these columns. These schemes and projects are of vital importance in the developmental programme of the country irrespective which party is at the helm of affairs. Our lament is that it is the general masses of people of the State who are the sufferers of delayed, mutilated, abandoned or neglected schemes. There are not one but many aspects of poor performance over these schemes and each time the State Government pulls one or the other pretext for justifying its failure or inefficiency. Stories like geography of the State, harsh climate, hilly road connectivity, difficulty of transportation of material, shortage of manpower are the commonplace pretexts. And if none of these pretexts work then the flood of 2014 is brought forward as the “flag-ship pretext”.
There is hardly a project for which two, three or even four time extension is not sought and even then some shortcomings remain. The question is how this situation is going to be reversed and how is the State Government motivated to adopt a changed approach to this culture. State Government has to understand that the people of the State are at the losing end. This has also demised the prestige of various Central agencies that are forced to send repeated reminders to the State Government but without any positive and practical result.
In a letter of September 4, Anil Swarup, Secretary Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development to the Chief Secretary has pointed out glaring shortcomings in the implementation of schemes connected with the School Education in the State. He has identified some of the major shortcomings in this connection. For example, in the case of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, compliance of audit observations is pending from Jammu and Kashmir for 2009-10, 2010-2011, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years. The communiqué points out that in terms of quality of learning J&K is not performing very well. As per National Achievement Survey (NAS), in Class III 57% children achieved more than 50% marks in language and 68% children in Maths (Round-III, 2013). In Class V number of children achieving more than 50% marks in language declined to 35% and in Maths 46% (Round-IV, 2015). Only 21% and 22% children could achieve more than 50% marks in Maths and Science respectively in Class VIII (Round-III, 2013). As per NAS 2015, for Class X, the average performance of students from J&K is significantly lower than the national average in all subjects except in English. Under Unified District Information System for Education, which is a database of information about schools in the country, the HRD Ministry has found that J&K has comfortable Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) of 9 at the primary level, 6 at upper primary level and 13 at secondary level though there are 4013 elementary schools that have adverse Pupil Teacher Ratio.
The desperation of the HRD Ministry is to the extent that it intends to seek the intervention of the Governor and the Chief Minister in the matter because at the level of bureaucracy, nothing tangle is in sight. The essential question is of improving the standard of education in our State. How can it be improved if vital programmes are given scant attention and even neglected? For quite some time and more particularly under the Coalition Government of PDP-BJP, State Education Department as whole and the School Education in particular have come under severe criticism and censure. A plethora of complaints are pending and much needed reforms in its administrative sector remain unattended. The department has a very large sector of manpower and public dealing. As such it appears that the present structure of the School Education Department is unable to cope with the duties. As such it should possible for the Government to create additional administrative structure that would look after exclusively to the Centrally sponsored schemes relevant to Education and Health. This will reduce the burden of work and responsibilities on School Education structure and thus bring in an element of positive work culture in the entire system.