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Shoes, bags as freebies

Ranchi, June 22: Poor children will now have more reasons to go to school regularly.

In a bid to check dropout rates, the state human resource development (HRD) department has decided to provide free shoes, socks, instrument boxes and bags to children studying in government-run primary and upper primary schools.

According to plan, around 50 lakh children between Class 1 and Class VIII at over 40,000 schools across the state will benefit from the scheme during the current academic session (2014-2015).

Under the initiative, department officials said, each student will get a pair of shoes and socks, apart from an instrument box and a schoolbag.

According to sources, HRD minister Geetashree Oraon has already given a go-ahead for the project, following which Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC), under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), and the state primary education department have started preparations for its implementation.

“We have prepared a plan for this scheme. It is now the onus of state officials of primary education department and JEPC to go ahead with the plan,” Oraon said.

A senior official of the HRD department said the initiative was part of the state government’s continuous efforts to curb dropout rates at the primary and upper primary levels.

“Most children who study in government schools are from poor economic background. Their parents cannot afford to buy them books, forget about bags or instrument boxes. Most do not have proper uniforms and school shoes. They move around in slippers or barefoot. So we have decided to provide them shoes and socks,” he added.

Currently, the central government provides free uniform and the state government provides textbooks to poor students.

This apart, all primary and upper primary schools provide free food under the midday meal (MDM) scheme to lure children from marginalised segments.

While the Centre bears 75 per cent, the state has to pitch in with 25 per cent of the total cost of the midday meal scheme.

The state government will bear the entire cost of the scheme to give shoes, socks, bags and instrument boxes to students.

Director of the state primary education department Jeetvahan Oraon said they were in the process of giving final shape to the proposal. “For any new scheme, the approval of the finance and planning department is a must, before it is forwarded to the state cabinet for the final nod. We are preparing its detailed project report and estimated budget,” he added.