The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cluster-schools salve on cash-starved state

A long-standing Unesco proposal, suggesting the setting up of groups of schools in every locality — a measure that will enable the institutions to share infrastructure amongst themselves — may soon take a concrete shape.

In the proposed scheme, state-aided schools in Calcutta and the districts will be divided into groups according to the locality they are situated in. The schools in each group will then be able to share their facilities.

For instance, an institution in a particular group may have a playground, which other schools in the group may not have. According to the scheme, students of all the schools in that group can use the playground.

School education minister Kanti Biswas said the state was keen on introducing the system as soon as possible. “This is a system most appropriate for state-funded schools with the present funds crunch. I have had detailed discussions with the Centre, which agrees,” he added. A lot of groundwork was needed to implement the scheme, he pointed out.

A 13-member committee on school education revamp, headed by former North Bengal University vice-chancellor Ranjugopal Mukherjee, due to submit its revised report to the government on March 31, is also examining the scheme’s possibilities.

Sources in the school education department said the government is keen on the proposal in the light of its present financial crisis. The proposed measure is expected to reduce the government’s overall expenditure on running the schools, since according to the new system, the schools will also be able to share faculty members, in addition to facilities like libraries and labs.

Government sources said the education committee has been asked to examine the proposed scheme since the CPM-controlled All Bengal Teachers’ Association (ABTA) has placed a strong demand on this count.

The committee had submitted its report on December 31, but the government extended its term for another three months after finding some of its recommendations “unsatisfactory”.

ABTA general secretary Amal Banerjee said: “The government must take steps to implement this programme. It is the best method to adopt in the present financial situation to maintain proper functioning of the state-aided schools.”

According to him, ABTA had suggested that the Ranjugopal Mukherjee committee examine ways to implement the scheme when it approached the Association for suggestions.

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