20k new schools needed

They are critical for cent per cent gross enrolment

A government-appointed committee has suggested opening of about 20,000 additional secondary schools during the 12th five-year plan period to achieve cent per cent gross enrolm­ent ratio in the country by 2017.

Karnataka will require 1,241 additional secondary schools,  Andhra Pradesh 456, Kerala 112 and Tamil Nadu 690 among the southern states in the next five years, a working group on secondary education, set up by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry for the preparation of 12th five-year plan proposals, has noted in its report on the basis of a “tentative estimation”.

Karnataka, strangely enough, has closed down hundreds of schools on the ground that they had few students. Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest population in the country, will require 3,000 secondary schools, Gujarat 2,256, Madhya Pradesh 2,180, Bihar 1,264 and West Bengal 1,006. Delhi will require 51 additional schools, the panel underlined.

According to the HRD Ministry, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for classes IX-XII in 2005-06 was 40.49 per cent. The figure for classes IX and X was 52.26 per cent whereas that for classes XI and XII was 28.54 per cent.

The GER is a statistical measure used by the United Nations to measure education index of a nation. There are about 1.23 lakh secondary schools functioning across the country.

The working group has also recommended that the Centre’s Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) scheme should be extended to cover XI and XII classes, too. Besides, it should also cover the government-aided schools.

“Extension of the RMSA programme to cover senior secondary level had been a long-standing demand from various stakeholders including state governments,” sources in the HRD Ministry told Deccan Herald.

The success of  the Centre’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in achieving large-scale enrolment of children in regular and alternate schools has thrown open the challenge of expanding access to secondary education.

Rapid changes in technology and the demand for skills have also made it necessary that young people get more than eight years of elementary education to acquire the necessary skills to compete successfully in the job market.

The recommendations of the working group will be sent to the Planning Commission for its view. It will later be placed before National Development Council, headed by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for consideration, ministry sources said.

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