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Good initiative that must be saved from corruption

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THE government's plan to transform secondary education by introducing quality education developing job related skills is the biggest-ever reform programme of our secondary and higher secondary education. The programme to cost about USD 16 billion is no doubt a huge initiative and though comes delayed but not too late. But the big question is whether we have the desired honesty and institutional capacity to utilize such big budget in five years without letting much of it to be misused by corrupt officials, contractors, party men and such other rent seekers?

Experiences shows to many big budget means big opening for making illegal fortune and particularly the education sector has the worst record of such misuse of fund without much success to stop it so far. So the big worries would be how to save a good project from the clutches of dishonest people who will handle the fund and run various projects.   

As per media report, the entire secondary education sector will be overhauled under the five-year programme starting from January next year and to be funded by government own resources along with matching fund from World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) of $500 million each. It initially plans to cover grade VI to XII supporting more than 1.2 crore students and three lakhs teachers from over twenty thousand schools, ten thousand madrasas and one thousand school-based vocational/technical institutes across the country.

Remodeling school curriculum, complex textbooks, outdated teaching methods and poor teaching-learning approaches will also dominate from Class VI to XII. Attention will be given how to reduce dropout rates, teacher's shortage, improve teacher-students ratio and poor school infrastructure. It will strive to improve the competence of students in English and Mathematics in which most students fail.

As per plan it will introduce curriculum to improve productivity of secondary graduates relating to technical skills for job markets. Under the scheme teaching curriculum and textbooks from Class IX to XII would be linked to skill development and vocational training. New examination system will also be adopted to achieve improved classroom assessment and learning results. Massive infrastructure development will also follow along with equipping classrooms, supporting water and sanitation facilities, science and computer labs, and such other physical facilities. 

Strengthen school-based management, enhance the capacity of head teachers, other teachers and their accountability mechanism would play significant role to bring about tangible improvement in teaching and producing job oriented students.

Such elaborate and detail plan for improving secondary level education will no doubt go a long way to make our education productive away from producing aimless graduate. What is noticeable is that much of the programme involves infrastructure building and procurements, which provides scope for massive corruption and misuse of fund. So we must do everything to implement the programme with highest care. In our view the WB and ADB should also work with the government to create a new monitoring mechanism on spending to avoid misuse of funds.

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