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Minister decries deduction of education funds in Bihar

Patna, March 24: Decrying slash of funds for the implementation of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes, Bihar education minister P K Shahi today sought clarity from the Centre so that arrangements be made to continue the two schemes in the state.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced in the Budget for the reduction of funds for implementation of SSA and MDM for which the Centre and states share expenditure in the ratio of 65:35, but there has been no clarity on the issue so far, Shahi said in the Assembly.

Replying to a question on the education department's budget of Rs 22,027 crore for 2015-16, the minister said he had taken up the matter with the Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani during a meeting recently, but she could not throw more light and said she would find out from Jaitley.

Stating that a clarity was required on the details of reduction in funds under the SSA and MDM heads, Shahi said it would help the state government to make provision for required funds to keep the two schemes going in Bihar.

Observing that the Nitish Kumar government had inherited an out of shape educational system in Bihar about a decade back, Shahi said due to Kumar's focused attention, things have improved in areas like enrolment of students in schools at about 99 per cent, increase in attendance at 74 per cent and improvement in enrolment ratio for boys and girls at 54 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively.

Yet Bihar lagged far behind in terms of infrastructure and quality of education, he said, adding given the existing inadequacies including shortage of funds, it would take decades for Bihar to come at par with the national ratio.

With the Assembly polls knocking on the doors, the minister announced recruitment of Urdu teachers in schools before or after March 31 next for which efforts were on to remove all obstacles, including stay by the Patna High Court.

On contractual teachers, whose number stand at more than two lakh in Bihar, Shahi said the service condition of those teachers were being reviewed, but refrained from committing on their regularisation or wage hike.

The contractual teachers would get improved service condition soon. Shahi also announced for creation of jobs for music teachers in government schools in Bihar, he said. The House passed the education department's budgetary demand after the opposition BJP members staged a walk out.

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