Secondary Schools For All Within 5 Km

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New Delhi Feb 14 (UNI) Every child will have a secondary school within five KM, and a higher secondary school within ten KM, from home within three years, a Parliamentary panel has been assured.

The assurance was given by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh while chairing a Consultative Committee of Parliament dealing with the HRD Ministry yesterday.

Expanding secondary education to ensure its availability, access and quality were described by Singh as the key goals of his Ministry's eleventh Plan effort.

Officials said the government would try to set up higher secondary schools within seven KM of where students live-- or within ten KM where that is not feasible.

Singh predicted a ''perceptible change'' on these attainable targets in the 3rd year of the 2007-2012 Plan.

He said vocationalisation of secondary education will be taken up on a massive scale.

Other points that came up at the meeting: -- Universalising access to secondary education by 2012; -- Strengthening existing schools to achieve norms; -- Expanding existing schools' capacity; -- Expanding open distance learning facilities; and -- Stepping up allocation to secondary education from 0.9 per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product to 1.5 per cent.

Expanding secondary education will involve recruiting and training teachers and upgrading physical infrastructure-- classrooms, playgrounds, libraries, science and computer labs, such basics as toilets, drinking water, electricity, telephones.

It will also entail giving incentives to girls and weaker sections-- scheduled castes, tribes and minorities-- revising curriculum and effecting examination reforms.

Members suggested special efforts to reduce dropout rates, specially for girls, creating social and parental awareness, making education accessible and affordable and emphasising moral and value education and yoga.

They also suggested in-service training for teaching staff; hostel facilities for girls to reduce dropout rates; developing Public Private Partnership, effecting better infrastructure and systemic educational reforms.

They were told about plans to open 6,000 new high quality schools-- a school per block-- 2,500 of them along Public Private Partnership model.

Also on cards are girls' hostels-- each equipped for 100 inmates-- in Educationally Backward Blocks and 100,000 annual Merit-cum-Means scholarships of Rs 6,000 from class IX-XII.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for HRD D Purandareswari and Parliament Members Babulal Marandi, D Raja, Harisinh Chavda, Haribhau Jawale, Mrs Kanimozhi, Dr K Kasturirangan, Prof P J Kurien, Ramesh Dube, Raashid Alvi, Dr Vallabhbhai Kathiria and Vijay Krishna.

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