The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) programme could be extended up to class XII during the 12th plan period with several state education ministers favouring the move.
The extension of this flagship scheme, seeking universal access to secondary education by 2017 and achieving universal retention by 2020, received a general consensus at the State Education Ministers conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.“Some states wanted RMSA to cover class XI and class XII and also Government aided schools. This is for 12th five year plan… there was a general consensus on this,” said HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.
Talking to reporters at the end of the meeting, he said some states also suggested that the provision of having a secondary school (up to class X) within a radius of 5km for every neighbourhood under the scheme should be brought down to 3 km.
However, he dismissed observations on making changes in RTE norm reserving 25 percent of the seats for economically weaker sections, saying “It is non-negotiable under RTE”.
He said the states supported establishment of model schools in 2500 blocks under PPP model, where the class strength would also comprise Government-sponsored students.
The land will be procured by private entity and school infrastructure built by them, he said, adding, the proposal will be placed before the Cabinet soon.
When his attention was drawn to some universities allegedly circumvented the 27 percent OBC quota to fill those seats with general category students, Sibal said the matter was a “serious issue” and “we are going to address it and enquire as to why it is being done”.
Talking about the RMSA scheme, the HRD Minister said suggestions were also placed that the financial limit for building schools should be raised and flexibility be granted in allocation depending on the year of the establishment of the school.
The meeting, attended by education ministers of 26 states, also resolved to continue the 75:25 fund sharing under RMSA between the Centre and the States in the Twelfth Plan and giving wide publicity to child entitlements under RTE.
Initiating GIS mapping exercises for establishment of neighbourhood schools curricular renewal and instituting a system of learner assessment as an integral part of the learning system was also discussed at the meeting.
A presentation was also made on the much talked-about low cost computing device at the meeting, for which the Ministry has already released Rs 47.72 crore to IIT Rajasthan for acquisition and testing of the device.
The project is being implemented under the national mission on education through ICT scheme.
The first lot of such devices –about 10,000 — would be reaching IIT Rajasthan soon, following which the modalities will be worked out to have these devices tested in all climatic conditions of the country.
States, which will be provided 3000 such devices each, have also been advised to carry out testing and trial of these devices in their respective places.
The state ministers agreed that there is need for a comprehensive and reliable data-base on higher education to reflect factual status of the higher education sector and in planning its growth in order to address the issues of access, equity, relevance and quality.
The HRD Ministry has already initiated steps to conduct the All India Survey on Higher Education, on which a presentation was made at the meeting.
The setting up of 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) under PPP mode was discussed, with the states being requested to identify private partners and location of the institutes as per the criteria laid down by the expert committee.
The states have been asked to forward their proposals based on the detailed project report to the HRD Ministry within three months.