Schools in Karnataka opened for the new academic year on May 16. Even after 50 days of school reopening, children go to their classes wearing colorful clothes or old uniforms that do not fit them, and slippers or sandals.
Due to acute shortage of funds in the education department, students of government schools will be deprived of the compulsory shoes, socks and uniforms which are the symbols of school discipline. The Department of School Education and Literacy in Karnataka, which is facing severe funding crunch, is yet to release funds to buy materials for children, despite Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in his maiden budget for the financial year 2021-22. In, its first budget for the financial year 2021-22 has been increased. Education budget allocation one percent
Setting aside Rs 31,980 crore for education programmes, Bommai stressed that the emphasis would be on bringing in new universities, model schools and Bengaluru public schools.
According to a senior education department official, the state government budget is focusing more on building education programs and education institutions rather than shoes, socks, uniforms and cycles. “The schooling of the last two years was completely disrupted due to the pandemic and classes were conducted online. Therefore, not much priority was given to allocating funds for shoes, socks and uniforms. However, we have placed the work order for the uniform and it will reach the students in the coming weeks.
“Similar cost had gone up and there were delays in designing the fabric as the textile industry remained non-functional during the lockdown period. As far as shoes, socks and cycles are concerned, it is estimated that more than Rs 300 crore are needed for these. In this regard, Education Minister BC Nagesh will soon hold a meeting with the Chief Minister.
Government playing with the future of innocent children: Siddaramaiah
This attitude of the government has been strongly criticized by the opposition. Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah has accused the ruling party of playing with the future of innocent children. He said, ‘On one hand, while leaders and officials of the ruling party are looting public money by doing 40 per cent commission politics, on the other hand, BJP By not giving textbooks, cycles, shoes and socks, innocent children are playing with the future. It was former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who started the scheme of giving cycles to girl students. Is Basavaraj Bommai trying to sideline Yeddyurappa by not continuing the plan? Siddaramaiah asked.
The amount has not yet been allocated to the schools
Talking to IE.com, teachers from various public schools observed that for the last two years they did not have to worry about money to buy uniforms, socks and shoes as classes were completely online due to the pandemic. “Usually we get a circular from the state government regarding the estimated cost of buying shoes and socks in the month of June. Then we invite quotations and select the lowest quotation vendor and allot the work order to them. But this year, even after nearly two months of school reopening, we have not been allocated funds to buy socks and shoes. There are over 1,500 students in our school and it would cost around Rs 350 to buy a pair of socks and shoes for each student,” said the headmaster of a government high school in Bengaluru.
Minister Nagesh had recently courted controversy by saying that students “go to schools for education, not socks and shoes”.
He said that the government has spent Rs 150 crore on the Learning Recovery Program, which is more important. “Funds have been allocated for the repair and construction of new classrooms that were destroyed in the rain. Our main focus this year is to provide quality education and classes. At the same time, we are not ruling out shoes and socks. We will take a decision on this matter in the coming days.”
The state government ordered eight corrections to the revised textbook material, and the education department said each school would be given a booklet for each subject containing the corrections. However, the teachers say that they have not received the booklet yet.
The most ambitious learning recovery program – an initiative to bridge the learning gap between students due to the lockdown – also landed in a controversy when teachers were asked to find donors to obtain photo copies of learning worksheets. The students were also asked to take down the learning worksheets in their notebooks. “Worksheets are now being distributed to all schools in a phased manner. The teaching worksheets for classes 1, 2 and 3 have already been distributed,” said the education department official.
Ajay Kamath, state secretary of the All India Democratic Students Organisation, said, “The paucity of funds is a lame excuse by the government to turn away from its responsibilities. If this was true then the government should have stopped increasing the salaries of MLAs also. But the government, which humbly accepted the demands of the legislators, has left many poor and talented students in limbo. The government, which had to stand by the students, has withdrawn the grants, resulting in poor management, shortage of teachers, stalling of projects in government institutions.”