Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Education cess: Have schools benefited?

Any idea what is happening to the Education Cess you pay almost on everything? Read on.

By Shivani Singh\TNN

New Delhi: The next time you pay a 2% education cess on any bill at the neighbourhood grocer’s shop, ask the government if your money will help install a girls’ toilet, a water tap or a blackboard at any sarkari school. A year ago when the cess was levied, there were no such facilities in most government-run primary schools. And indications are that nothing revolutionary has happened in the year gone by—2004-’05—for us to dramatically alter this view.
While we wait for precise information on cess collection and spending for the past fiscal year, data from the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) reveals that in 2003-’04 most schools did not even have toilets for girls. Only about 3.5% of the schools in Bihar and Chhattisgarh had such facilities. In Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, only 12% to 16% of the primary schools had toilets for girls.
While focussing attention on improving the student enrolment rate (admitting children to Class I), the Centre and states clearly missed a point. A lack of toilets for girls is one major reason they drop out of school in such large numbers. The data also shows that in 2003-’04, the governments in most states could not even install a water tap in most schools.
While drinking water was available in only 51% of the schools in Andhra Pradesh, in Karnataka 33% of the primary schools did not have this facility. In Bihar and Jharkhand, nearly 20% of the children were enrolled in schools that did not even have a blackboard! About 62% of the primary schools in Assam, 34% in Andhra Pradesh and 30% in Meghalaya had just one classroom.
The central and state governments seem to have not achieved anything, despite political tom-tomming and elementary education being made a top priority. In Bihar, out of 100 kids who joined Class I, only 33 made it to Class V. Only 6.28 lakh out of 11 lakh students enrolled in Class V reached Class VI. The situation was marginally better in Rajasthan, where 42 out of 100 students who joined Class I reached Class V.
In UP, the survival rate up to Class V was 54%. But out of 29 lakh children attending Class V, only 15 lakhs made it to Class VI. With a few exceptions in states like Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Punjab, student survival rate was dismally low in most places. “This, despite the government’s policy to not fail any student in any class up to Std V,’’ said an NEIPA official.