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Governor raps ‘poor shape’ of govt schools

Governor M.K. Narayanan on Wednesday said government schools in Bengal were in “poor shape” because of lack of basic infrastructure, the observation highlighting the failure of successive governments in handling a priority sector.

Classrooms of many government schools are in a shambles, the governor said at a function organised by the Association of Schools for the Indian School Certificate, a national body of ISC/ICSE school heads, at the Science City auditorium. “There is a lack of basic infrastructure like libraries, laboratories, counselling and even lavatories. There is also serious dearth of good teachers.”

The heads of over 1,200 ICSE and ISC schools from across the country attended the programme.

“The infrastructure of the schools is in poor shape due to years of past neglect.... In West Bengal, in case of secondary and higher secondary education, there are several loopholes that call for immediate attention,” the governor said.

The condition of the private schools in the state, he added, was “better”.

Many prominent academicians accuse the erstwhile Left Front government of neglecting primary and secondary education in the state.

Mamata Banerjee, too, used to speak about the deteriorating standard of education in Bengal because of the Left’s policies at her pre-Assembly election rallies and promised to overhaul the sector after being voted to power.

A government source, however, said the drop in the allocation for school education from over 13.5 per cent of the state’s total plan expenditure in 2011-12 to around 11.6 per cent in 2012-13 was an indication of a mismatch between Mamata’s promise and action.

Of the Rs 18,008.68 crore as plan expenditure for 2011-12 (revised estimate), Rs 2.446.01 crore was allocated for school education. In the 2012-13 budget, Rs 2,713.05 crore out of Rs 23,371.44 crore was allocated for school education.

“The allocation would have increased had the government really wanted to upgrade the school infrastructure,” said an official.

Told about the governor’s praise of private schools vis-a-vis government ones, education minister Bratya Basu said on the sidelines of another programme: “There is an element of truth in what the governor has said. But the private schools the governor is referring to can charge high fees from students to raise funds for infrastructure. Our government does not intend to charge any fees and the right to education act does not allow us to do so. Still we have to keep this perspective in mind and we want to deliver maximum services to our students.”