The Minister of State for Human Resource Development Smt. D. Purandeswari has appealed the State Governments to extend full cooperation for the betterment of education infrastructure in the Country. Addressing the All India Editors Conference on Social Sector Issues in Puducherry here today Dr. Purandeswari said education is a collective and cooperative responsibility of Union as well as all state governments.
The minister said in order to strengthen the elementary Education sector the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan norms have been revised to correspond with the provisions of the RTE Act. Emphasis is being given on sending higher enrolment of girl child under the Abhiyan. She said by bringing a constitutional amendment in the form of Article 21A, the Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 has become operative in the country w.e.f. April 2010. She said the sharing of funds between the Centre and states was in the ratio of 50:50 during 11th plan period and now it is proposed to make 65:35 in between Centre and the State during the XII Plan.
She also spoke of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan(RSMA), a flagship programme to improve access to secondary education to all young persons according to norms through proximate locations and to ensure that no child is deprived of secondary education of satisfactory quality due to gender, socio economic, disability and other barriers.
The Minister referred to the Model School Scheme announced by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and said this scheme envisages providing quality education to talented rural students through setting up of 6000 model schools as a bench mark of excellence at block level at the school of one school per block. The scheme was launched in 2008-09 and is being implemented from 2009-10.
She said efforts are being made to improve the quality of teachers through the Teachers Eligibility Test(TET) and urged all the stake holders to ensure its success.
The Minister said 14 bills to bring about reform in Education Sector have been tabled in the Parliament. She also said that to ensure that only quality education through collaboration with foreign university and educational institutions is imparted in India a bill is already under the consideration of Parliament.
Smt. Purandeswari said at the time of Independence there were only 20 universities and 500 colleges which have increased to 611 universities and university-level institutions and 31,324 colleges since August 2011. She said to face the challenges of 21st century, Government has taken a number of Initiatives during the XI Plan period which focus on improvement of access alongwith equity and excellence, adoption of state specific strategies, enhancing the relevance of higher education through curriculum reforms, vocationalisation, networking and use of Information Technology and distance education along with reforms in governance. Expansion, inclusion, rapid improvement in quality by enhancing public spending, encouraging private initiatives and initiating the long overdue major institutional and policy reforms are at the core of these efforts, she added.
The Minister said with planned interventions and sustained efforts considerable progress has been made in the literacy area, The literacy rate in 2001 Census was 64.83 percent, which improved to 74.04 percent in 2011.Interestingly literacy rate has improved sharply among females as compared to males.
She expressed concern on the school dropout rate especially among the girl child in the transition period of primary to secondary education and said lack of proper toilet facilities and drinking water facilities in the rural areas are one of reasons to it. She said the issue is being taken up with the Ministry of Rural Development under the convergence programmes.
She said a National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) is being developed as it will emphasize the importance of integration of vocational education and training and general education in all types of education and training. It will provide a common reference frame work for linking various qualifications and setting common principles and guidelines for a nationally recognized qualifications system and to address the issues of skill shortage in various sectors. She said it will be a unified system of national qualifications covering schools, Vocational education and Training Institutions as well as the Higher education Sector and would be useful in integrating education and training systems encouraging lifelong and continuing learning.