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The government of India did not fix any target for opening of non-formal education centres in the state. The state government also did not involve itself in setting up NFE centres during the period of review. However, out of 9 non-governmental organizations, 7 were engaged in imparting non-formal education with targeted groups of children. According to a survey report of 6 NGOs, 4.21 lakh learners were to be imparted non-formal education during 1995-2000 but only one lakh could be brought under the scheme, leaving 3.21 lakh learners (76 per cent) out of the ambit of education...

Audit coverage: implementation of the programme was reviewed by test-check of records of 9 NGOs covering seven districts, the department and the directorate between December 2000 and September 2001.

Finance: cent per cent Central assistance was provided to the NGOs directly from the GOI for running the NFE centres...Due to non-implementation of the programme by the state government, the Central assistance could not be obtained.

Absence of monitoring of NGOs: the department and directorate were responsible for monitoring the activities of NGOs who were working towards eradicating illiteracy in the state. Evaluation of the activities of the NGOs was required to be conducted jointly by the state and GOI. Further, department and directorate did not maintain any record indicating the number or location of NGOs functioning in the state, number of learners enrolled, dropped out, passed out and entered into mainstream of formal education. Further, the performance of the NGOs under the scheme was neither monitored nor evaluated. The deputy secretary, mass education extension department stated...that the GOI directly implemented the scheme through NGOs, and the state government was not informed of the release of grants to NGOs.

The GOI, however, endorsed a copy of the sanction to the state government. The deputy director (MEE) further added that no directives were forwarded by the GOI for monitoring the NGOs and also accepted the fact that due to non/poor receipt of annual/quarterly progress reports from NGOs as well as performance and evaluation reports from the officers in the department of mass education extension, no records were available with them. The reply of the deputy director was not tenable since GOI had requested the secretary, MEE department, and deputy director, MEE directorate... to review the performance of the NGOs and to intimate the GOI regarding the performances of the NGOs so that release of grant could be regulated on the basis of their performance. Further, the NGOs, while submitting quarterly reports to the GOI also endorsed copies to the deputy director (MEE), directorate of the state government. The instructions of director (MEE) to the DMEEOs to submit reports/returns on the activities of the NGOs working in the districts were not complied with. Thus, DMEEOs did not involve themselves with the activities of the NGOs working in the districts. The activities of the NGOs in the state relating to performance and working remained unmonitored. As such, there was no co-ordinations between the government and the NGOs in providing elementary education...

In hilly, tribal and educationally backward areas and urban slums, NFE centres were to provide education to those children who remained out of formal education due to various socio-economic constraints. However, NFE centres were set up in districts with higher percentage of literacy while districts with lower percentage of literacy were totally ignored...

Thus, evidently important aspects like percentage of literacy, special features of population (like hilly, tribal or socio-economically backward) were not considered while according sanction and approval for setting up NFE centres...Children who passed under NFE were not allowed to register their names in employment exchanges. Moreover, uniform strategy of testing and certification of NFE students as in formal education was not adopted. NGOs issued certificates of their own accord.

Though NFE programme envisaged strategy of testing and certification of NFE learners to enable their entry into formal education system, no such certification was done by the test checked NGOs except Sri Ramkrishna Satyananda Ashram and Tagore Society for Rural Development during 1995-2000.

Calcutta Urban Service Consortium stated that NFE passed-out learners were not admitted by formal schools. So, the NGO discontinued issuing certificates to passed out learners. Thus, not having any certificates, NFE learners were not only deprived of recognition as passed students eligible for admission into mainstream formal school education but also the children became less enthusiastic to join the NFE centres with the result that the objective of the scheme was frustrated.

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