Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday finally approved the Right to Education in letter and spirit. The state cabinet proposed an expenditure of Rs 3,056 crore on free education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years during the current financial year.
The fund spent by the state will be in addition to the grant given by the Centre, which has enacted this law in 2009 and made it binding on all states from April 1, 2010. Although UP also had adopted the RTE in April 2010, the state government had not released its share so far. The decision hopes to cover vast majority of non-school going children, most of them hailing from Scheduled Castes.
The state, according to an official press release has released its share of Rs 1,845 crore towards this for 2010-11 and Rs 1,603 crore against the total estimated cost of Rs 3,056 crore for the current financial year. The project would further need the state share of Rs 4,472 crore in 2012-13, Rs 4,274 in 2013-14 and Rs 4,512 crore in 2014-15. The cost overrun of the project would be funded by the Centre. So far, the project has been stipulated till 2014-15, as no commitment for its funding has been made after that period either by the Centre or the Finance Commission.
As per the RTE Act, primary schools will be set up within a radius of one km in locality having a population of 300 and junior high school within a radius of three km to cover a population of 800. For the regulation and management of these schools, the state government has decided to set up a 14-member state advisory council to be headed by basic education minister. The issue related to school reorganisation would be done by basic shiksha adhikari and any decision in this regard will be taken within seven days. The role of the council will be to keep overall supervision and give suggestions to strengthen the system.
In another decision, the government decided to widen its support base among minorities by extending the benefits of Savitribai Phule Balika Shiksha Madad Yojna to BPL girl students of minorities studying in government recognised madarsas. The scheme meant to encourage girl education, envisages a grant of Rs 15,000 and a cycle to each girl taking admission in class XI and Rs 10,000 and a cycle to those continuing in class 12. In the case of madarsa education, this will cover girls taking admission for the class of 'Alim' first and second year. Even the married girl student will be entitled for this, but in that case, their age should not be less than 18 years at the time of marriage and the marriage certificates in this case should be duly obtained by competent authorities.
At present, there are total 1,571 madrassas of 'aliya' level. Of them 459 are in the list of grants on-aid and the remaining on non grant list. The decision is expected to boost education among Muslim girls, whose literacy rate is very low in the state.
The cabinet has also decided to encourage group housing scheme by amending Floor Area Regulation (FAR). With this, floor purchase will be done on the basis of the DM circle rate or the sector rate of the concerned development authority. Apart from this, only that much area of floor will be taken into consideration for calculation, which is useful for construction purposes and not the entire floor. With this, the floor purchase will be cheaper than the prevailing rate. The decision, according to official press release, is aimed at reducing the pressure on agricultural land for the purpose of housing and mitigate housing problem in urban areas.
For the protection of forest, the government proposes to amend the UP Forest Conservation Act, 1976 in the forthcoming monsoon session of the assembly to give it new teeth in order to widen the scope of forest conservation and punish the guilty stringently.
In order to address the farmers, the cabinet also decided to give 50% subsidy or grant to farmers on the purchase of hybrid seeds of maze and paddy, which cost as high as Rs 8,000 per quintal at present. Likewise, the farmers will also be given 50% subsidy on the cost incurred by them on improving the soil quality to improve the productivity under the food security mission. In both these scheme, 25% beneficiaries should be from Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.