Thursday, February 22, 2024

Provincialisation Deficit High / Higher Secondary Schools of Meghalaya

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By Dr.S.K.Chattopadhyay

The recent letter circulated to Deficit High/Higher Secondary Schools stating that the Government is in the process of provincialisation of all Deficit Secondary/Higher Secondary Schools which are not run by Religious Organization.. According to Education Minister the Government will take over the Deficit Schools with an intention to improve the quality of education of the State and Government is going to get financial backup from Asian Development Bank which will be 90% as grant. It is really extremely good news for the State of Meghalaya as it has been lagging behind in comparison to other North Eastern States in respect of service condision of Teaching and Non teaching staff of Schools and Colleges and the State is fortunate that 90% Community Participation in the management could uphold the academic standard of the state.

It is not understood why the move is to provincialise of Deficit High/Higher Secondary Schools only. The Government of Assam in 1957, introduced a system of maintenance grant known popularly as Deficit Grant with a view to extend the benefit Government prescribed pay scale to attract quality teachers for providing quality education. Only selected Schools were extended the benefit of Deficit Grant. The Schools not covered under Deficit Grant were extended lump sum grant known as Adhoc Grant. There are other category of schools as Deficit Pattern, Newly permitted schools etc. Deficit School teachers are given equal pay and allowances as Government School teachers are paid. Only difference is that Government teachers are getting pension after retirement and Deficit Teachers are covered under contributory provident fund scheme and now Government employees also need to contribute for pension benefit. Thus, broadly two systems of grants -in-aid exist in our state, that is Deficit and Adhoc System in the private Schools and under Adhoc System teachers are poorly paid and newly permitted Schools are just venture Schools. As a result there has been constant demand for bringing old established Adhoc Schools under Deficit System for quality Education as under Ad-hoc system under paid and under qualified teachers can contribute less to the cause of Education and there are instances of irregularities in the management of schools.

In this backdrop, White paper 1988, states that “The thrust will be towards progressively taking more Schools under Deficit System of grants in aid to ensure qualitative improvement. But since 1989, no Schools were taken under Deficit System. In 1991, a decision was taken that no more Schools would be provincialised or brought under Deficit System of Grants in aid and Government will increasingly cover more and more schools which are under Ad-hoc system to bring good Ad-hoc Schools at par with the Deficit Schools by raising grants. It is to be noted that there are 121 Deficit High Schools and there are 139 Deficit Upper primary Schools. It is not clear whether Upper Primary Schools will be povincialised or not.

In this back drop, it is necessary to take very cautious decision in provincialisation of deficit Schools only or it will expand the scope to other categories of Schools also. Moreover, Provincialisation is as stated would be taking over by the Government even the management of Schools. This may create various problems as experienced in the past after taking over some Schools of the State. It involves regularization of services by MPSC. Therefore Meghalaya may follow Assam model, that is, only to provincialise the services of teaching and non teaching staff leaving management of the institution concern as before with the sponsoring body.

All Deficit Schools may not qualify to be taken under the Scheme at the first instance. There may be necessary to base on several criteria whether a particular institution deserve to be brought under the New Scheme. The first and foremost thing will be required to strengthen the Directorate and District School administration. The present man power will find difficulty in dealing with the subject.

Well established Ad- hoc schools may be considered to cover under the Scheme and both Ad-hoc High School and Ad-hoc Upper primary schools may be considered for the sake of quality education in the State.

To conclude, it will be a game changer in the field of Education, provided Government decides to take over services of the teaching and non-teaching staff expanding its ambit to Ad-hoc Schools of reputation in analogy with other states like Assam, West Bengal, etc.

(The writer is Retd. Director of Higher and Technical Education)

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