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Home > Media Room > SCC in News

Given a choice, students choose best

Statesman News Service, July 30, 2007

PARALAKHEMUNDI: The New Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society inaugurated the “School Choice Campaign in Gajapati district” at a function at the Town Hall here. Dr Dhanada Kumar Mishra, secretary of AID India, Orissa Chapter, was the chief guest.

The former chairman of the Paralakhemundi Municipality, Mr Nursingha Charan Patnaik, was the chief speaker.

Earlier, a rally was organised where pupils from different schools participated. Dr Mishra said the programme was meant to create awareness among the people about the need for a student to be able to study in a school of his/her choice.

There is an obvious disparity in the education system where the rich have the option but a poor child has none whatsoever.
The school choice campaign being organised in nearly eight states has plans to collect 10 lakh signatures, to highlight the issue.

“Crores of rupees are being spent in the name of education but when it comes to real evaluation of results, one finds that pass results are poor, drop-out rates abominable, corruption galore, misappropriation of funds and no accountability. Why should the bureaucrat decide how education funds should be spent and should they bear no responsibility for the failures,” asked Dr Mishra.

Mr Patnaik said Gajapati had always taken the lead in education and at one time was called “Education Town”. Despite the progress of projects such as the Sarva Sikhsha Abhijan and National Child Labour Project, results are not up to the mark.

After the meeting, Dr Mishra said they have found out that the government investment in education is about Rs 5000 per annum, per student.

The money is being spent in the form of infrastructural development, books purchase, teacher recruitment , purchasing of materials and so on. Spending is decided by government officers who are unaware of the ground realities. Had the same money been handed over to the parent or the guardian, giving him or her the choice of school, there could be rapid transformation in the system.

However radical or antagonistic the proposal may be, it is fast catching up and the Delhi-based CCS has been trying to make the government understand that the money is best given to the guardians in the form of vouchers. If 1,000 students are selected from a particular block and given Rs 5,000 each year for their education, it comes to Rs 50 lakh per annum, he said.
This is bound to encourage good schools to come up in the block.

These can be an alternative to locally run government schools where the poor people are forced to study because the government is investing money on them.

Read the report on The Statesman



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