J & K

Altaf Bukhari for collective effort, constructive engagement to mend education sector

January 23, 2018 08:59 PM

JAMMU, JANUARY 23:  Terming education as cog-in-the-wheel of progress at all levels, Minister for Education Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari today said despite many odds and varied challenges the government succeeded to putting decrepit education system back on track and the recent board results in Kashmir offer a silver lining amid the dark clouds.

The Minister reminded the members of the series of marathon constituency-wise meetings taken by him to review the education sector.

Winding up the discussion on Demand for Grants of the Education and allied Departments under his charge and responding to the points raised by the legislators, the Minister stressed on engaging in a constructive dialogue on improving the contours of the education sector, and emphasised that ‘it requires all of us to rise above political affiliations and considerations.’

He welcomed the suggestions of the Legislators and assured them that the same would be incorporated to streamline the functioning of the Department.

Admitting it was hard to bring a discernible change on the ground in the backdrop of huge gaps and challenges posed by law and order situation, he said to paint a rosy picture won’t be the right thing.

He however said that investment in education would mean investment in the future of the children ‘Nation Builders ofTomorrow’.

“Considering this fact, Government has decided on three-fold increase in the CAPEX Budget of School Education Department for the year 2018-19, “the Minister said.

He expressed gratitude to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu for having considered his projections made during series of interactions held with them.    

He informed it was due to their personal efforts of the Finance Minister that despite shortfall in the allocation of salaries of SSA Teachers by the Central Government, the Finance Department has gone out of way in disbursing salaries to these Teachers from the State Budget. 

The Minister reminded the members of the series of marathon constituency-wise meetings taken by him to review the education sector.

“I hope that the members by now must have framed a blueprint of their respective constituencies as the ownership of education in their areas has already been vested in them during these meetings,” he asserted and said one of the first steps in strategic partnership with the Legislators and MPs can take towards upgrading infrastructure in education sector will be their commitment to contribute Rs 1 crore each out of their CDF and MPLAD grants towards education sector. He assured that the funds provided shall be spent as per the demands of the Legislators and Parliamentarians in their respective constituencies.

He informed the house that the State Cabinet has given nod to the up-gradation of 400 schools from Middle to High and High to Higher Secondary level and establishment of 17 new degree colleges in the State.

The Minister informed that to compensate the loss of time of students of schools and colleges due to frequent disruptions, his Ministry is seriously considering notifying a separate ‘Education Calendar’ that minimises holidays and enables the teachers to complete their syllabi well in time. He sought support of the people in safeguarding the education sector from frequent disruptions and called for exempting teachers from all non-academic duties in the larger interest of the student community.

“We cannot afford to make our students suffer for this, teachers have to be discharged from all non-teaching assignments, including election-related duties,” he said. 

He said present Government has already demonstrated its commitment towards working in tandem with Legislators, cutting across the political divide, by requesting them to identify schools, in order of their preference, in their respective constituencies which qualify for such up-gradation.

The Minister said the state cannot lose focus unless remedial measures are taken, education can become the first casualty of any conflict situation. “It was not easy to bring back the students from the streets to the classrooms where they actually belong. Despite extreme provocation, I take great pride in stating that not a single FIR was registered against the protesting students’ last year.” he said.  “This House should know that our students, especially adolescents, are passing through difficult times and require our handholding,” he said and called for involving them in decision-making processes.

For this, he suggested for forming ‘Student Councils’ which shall monitor the affairs of schools and colleges. He said the government will welcome vibrant collective participation   in spirit of the democratic setup where all people have the right to voice their concerns in a peaceful manner.

He said that the additional corpus of Rs 100 crore with contribution of the MLAs and MPs was to make them partners in the development of education system in the State. He called for spending the generated money on fencing and creating other facilities for security of the students and prevent outside interference.

“Till our schools remain unfenced and insecure in absence of permanent watch-and-ward, they will continue to remain extremely vulnerable to anti-social activities. Also, in a state like J&K that has remained in a perpetual state of turbulence, security remains a buzzword. We need watch-and-ward in every school so that we safeguard our students and educational infrastructure” he asserted.  He suggested for creation of a simple mechanism for watch-and-ward of Schools by way of engaging chowkidars.

Saying that the stat is still reprieving from the unrest of 2016 which took a heavy toll of the education sector, he said a large number of School buildings were specifically targeted by miscreants and around 32 Schools buildings were gutted, leaving the students in a lurch.

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