Free shoes unlikely for children this academic year

Free shoes unlikely for children this academic year

A month after the Cabinet approval for free shoes and socks to children in government schools, the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) members who have been asked to take charge of distribution of footwear to children, are still awaiting communication from the government.

The government had first announced the same in March 2015. While it was planned for the academic year 2015-16, with only two more months remaining in the academic year, SDMC members said it was unlikely it will reach all the children before the end of this academic year.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, an SDMC member from Udupi district said they had not heard anything from the government yet. “If they do not release it soon, they might as well give it for next year. Moreover, for some of the districts in North Karnataka, schools had preferred slippers over shoes, owing to the climate. It is still not clear to us whether that choice would be given to schools.”

Child rights activist Niranjanradhya V P said the schools and the SDMCs would benefit from a set of guidelines from the government. “The SDMC members need more clarification in this regard. The government must ensure freedom to SDMCs. Otherwise they will be left only updating the ledgers for the BEOs.”

'Funds on the way'

However, officials in the Department of Public Instruction said funds were on their way and it would reach all the schools soon. Director of Primary Education K Ananda said they had dispatched the funds to 12 districts already. “We have directly transferred the funds to the joint account of SDMC and the head master.” In another two days, it will be sent to all districts.

Giving clarity on the process, he said the SDMC members along with the headmaster would form a committee of five and the distribution was left to their discretion.

The committee will be at liberty to take a call on whether shoes or slippers should be distributed depending on the climatic condition. Further, the government was intervening only as far as providing the funds was concerned and it did not recommend any suppliers for the purpose.

The school could take a decision at the local level and buy it from any supplier willing to provide it at the rate fixed by the government, he added.

The government has allocated Rs 225 per student for classes 1 to 5, Rs 250 from classes 6 to 8 and Rs 275 for classes 8- 10. In all, funds amounting to Rs 120 crore has been sanctioned for the purpose from the government. 

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