NEW DELHI : With only 1.21 lakh completed out of a targeted 4.19 lakh, the government seems to be in a race against time to fulfill PM Narendra Modi’s promise of ensuring toilets in all schools in the country by Independence Day this year.
In his first Independence Day speech as Prime Minister, Modi had last year promised that, “next year when we stand here, every school should have toilets for girls and boys”.
While the target is for constructing 4.19 lakh toilets under the Swachh Vidyalaya initiative, only 1.21 lakh toilets have been completed so far even as 2 lakh toilets are in an advance stage of completion, Education Secretary Vrinda Sarup informed.
“A lot of energy is there among people towards completion of the toilets,” she told reporters when asked if she was confident of meeting the deadline.
Sarup and Higher Education Secretary SN Mohanty were briefing the media about the Human Resource Development Ministry’s achievement as the Modi government completes one year in office. HRD Minister Smriti Irani was away in Amethi to mark the occasion.
Sarup said the ministry is regularly monitoring the work with the states for fulfilling the mission, which is also being supported by central PSUs and private players.
A commitment for 1,600 toilets has been made under the Swachh Bharat Kosh initiative.
Discussing the target for states, Sarup said that West Bengal will construct 36,000 toilets while Andhra Pradesh needs 35,000 toilets.
Meanwhile, to a query whether the 17 per cent cut in the education budget this year would impact the ministry’s various programmes, Mohanty replied in the negative, saying that in the ‘near term, it will not dislodge our priorities’.
He said that neither would programmes like Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) be impacted much as a result of the cuts as it is still in the early years of implementation.
However, he said that they are in talks with other ministries as far as the smooth implementation of the scholarship programmes was concerned as the recent hike in the scholarship amount has impacted the ministry by about Rs 600 to Rs 700 crore. Higher Education Secretary Mohanty said that the budget cut would, in fact, prompt the ministry to prioritise the plans accordingly.
Asked about the opposition from a section of Delhi University (DU) faculty to the roll-out of the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS), he said its uniform implementation across all central universities had been agreed upon at a vice chancellors’ meet last year in Chandigarh.
‘It (CBCS) is the preferred route’ he said, adding that a large number of central universities have implemnented it. However, he remained evasive when asked if any relaxation in deadline would be given to universities who decide against its roll-out in the coming academic session. He said that UGC has issued the guidelines for its implementation and the not the ministry.
DU, he said, ‘has its own processes to implement it as it has to get the nod of the varsity’s academic council and that is where they have to figure out its implementation’.
Talking about some new initiatives in school education, Sarup said they have got the approval to soon roll out the Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan for motivating and engaging children of the age group 6-18 years in Science and Mathematics.
A school standard framework and a national ranking system are also in the offing, the secretaries said, adding that a draft Bill common to all central universities has also been prepared.
Talking about the raising of the honorarium for midday meal workers, Sarup asked the states to emulate the move adopted by some other states, which are supplementing the amount paid to them.