Full Plan Panel meet tomorrow, Legislation for elementary education

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New Delhi, Sep 13 (UNI) A meeting of the Full Planning Commission tomorrow will consider enacting a Central legislation to declare the right to elementary education a fundamental right.

The move has an appeal for winning over popular support, with political pundits betting on a mid-term poll. They feel that the government will announce programmes which are populist in nature and in this regard cite the Cabinet's recent approval of providing social security for the workers in the unorganised sector.

The Full Planning Commission meet proposes to making elementary education a fundamental right a financial responsibility of both the Centre and State Governments.

The meeting has been called to give focused attention to Education in the Eleventh Plan. The meet will consider revision of fees of 20 per cent in all Central and States Universities.

The Commission believes that literacy can accelerate the process of eradicating poverty and reducing regional disparities, factors that impair growth.

The meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will also consider transformation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) into a National Mission for Quality Elementary Education with specific monitor able targets. The Commission has worked out an allocation of Rs 2,69,673 crore for the Eleventh Plan, of which new initiatives will involve an expenditure of Rs 84,743 crore.

The initiatives relate to higher education, skill development through Polytechnics, education mission through ICT, technical education, language development and scholarships and book promotion.

Planning Commission sources say the idea is to revise fees to cover up to 20 per cent of the operational costs gradually in all existing Central and State Universities and Colleges and immediately in new institutions.

The meeting will consider providing scholarships to all needy and deserving students in higher education.

It will also consider establishing Higher Education Loan Guarantee Authority to facilitate education loans. Another innovative measure that will be considered relates to offering concessions to the students discharging social obligations, such as serving in government hospitals and going to rural areas.

Among the proposals to improve quality of education include standardising education to reduce the performance gap between private and public schools. It also aims at making funded institutions accountable using students performance as a yardstick.

For this purpose it suggests linking allocations to performance.

Inbuilt in the Planning Commission's proposals is expansion of IITs and IIMs to accommodate OBC reservations and also efforts to provide quality education by upgrading some universities to international level.

For the first time in the history of plan formulation, the Commission has ventured into having full commission meeting and even National Development Council meeting on a specific sector.

Commission members say this has been done to make implementing agencies partners in the plan formulation to have better results.

The Commission has already had NDC meeting on agriculture and now it intends to adopt a similar approach on education.

Sectoral approach has, however, delayed finalisation of the plan and led to delay in the introduction of new programmes. Commission sources say that in conditions of paucity of resources this has helped in maintaining increased flow of funds to priority projects, which are primarily the flagship programmes outlined in the NCMP.

UNI

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