With the extension of midday meals to Class IX and X students from June and the announcement of loan-cum-grants to private schools for infrastructure development, chief minister Manohar Parrikar, sought to do justice to the portfolio of education he holds, by dedicating a considerable part of the budget speech of Monday to the department.
But the obvious let down was the slipping in of way too many unfulfilled provisions of last year's budget into the 2013 one. Declarations that starting June, notepads and tablets would be provided to 50,000 Class V and VI students and laptops to 16,000 Class IX students, excited none.
All Parrikar could extract from his audience were silent sighs when he said that the Goa Infrastructure Development Corporation would be handed over repairs of all government schools, with the body struggling to complete the task for over five years now.
Measures like appointment of counselors in each school and distribution of 100 additional Balraths to schools have also found mention in Parrikar's speeches in the recent past.
Another promise, which no one was willing to buy into, was setting up of an advisory council 'to find a permanent solution to the medium of instruction for primary education row', as no headway has been made since the same announcement last year.
Parrikar, however, did not fail to harp on his 'commitment' to promote education in the mother tongue.
"Aid will be provided to all Konkani and Marathi pre-primary schools, provided they have the necessary basic infrastructure. Once the pre-primary schools are registered, we will provide them Rs 15,000 as grant per month. But the grants will not include the salaries of the teachers," Parrikar said.
Among reasons for beneficiaries to cheer included a grant of between Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 to primary schools, based on the student enrolment, over and above the grants given to them.
Teachers due to retire mid-academic year will get extension till the end of the year so students do not suffer academically.
"I want to make use of the expertise of the Bharatiya Jain Sangathana, which has provided valuable inputs to the education department in the past to improve the quality of education, to do away with the problems caused by the no-fail policy till Class VIII so far," Parrikar said.
The state is planning to hand over the responsibility of supply of midday meals in aided schools to the management of the schools.
"I want to make yoga and related studies an optional subject till Class IX," Parrikar announced.
He warned schools that they would face an inquiry if the minimum instructional days are not met.
But the chief minister concluded with a vague and appeasing promise to teachers retired prematurely at age 58. [TOI]