RMSA sets sight on reviving school system


By Hrishikesh Angom
IMPHAL, Oct 14: Unlike the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) which has not been implemented effectively in the state to achieve the goal of universalization of elementary education, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) launched this year has a new outlook to bring a real change in the education scenario of the state, especially in government higher secondary schools which have witnessed serious downfall in the past few years.
The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) has been launched in the country as per the announcement made by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in his 2007 Independence Day speech that a centrally sponsored scheme for universalization of access to and improvement of quality of education at secondary stage (SUCCESS) would be implemented during the 11th five-year plan period which envisages the provision of infrastructure and resources in the secondary education sector to create higher capacity in secondary schools in the country, and for improvement in quality of learning in the school; provision for filling the missing gaps in the existing secondary schools system; provision of extra support for education of girls, rural children and students belonging to SC/ST, minority and other weaker sections of the society; and a holistic convergent framework for implementation of various schemes in secondary education.
The goal of RMSA is universalization of secondary education by 2017 and 100 percent retention by 2020 with the main objectives to ensure that all secondary schools have physical facilities, staffs and supplies at least according to the prescribed standards through financial support in case of government or local body and government aided schools and appropriate regulatory mechanism in case of other schools; improve access to secondary schooling to all young persons according to norms-through proximate location (say, secondary schools within 5 kms and higher secondary schools within 7-10 kms), efficient and safe transport arrangements, residential facilities, depending on local circumstances including open schooling; ensure that no child is deprived of secondary education of satisfactory quality due to gender, socioeconomic, disability and other barriers; improve quality of secondary education resulting in enhanced intellectual, social and cultural learning; ensure that all students pursuing secondary education receive education of good quality; and achieve substantial progress in the direction of the common school system.   
The strategies for the implementation of RMSA are to provide access of secondary school to students by upgrading upper primary schools through construction of classrooms, laboratories, computer rooms, headmaster room, library rooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, appointment of additional teachers, and strengthening of existing secondary schools through construction of classrooms, computer rooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, appointment of additional teachers, strengthening of lab facilities and repair and renovation of existing school buildings; to remove the disparity among the different social groups of people, the scheme envisages special incentives for students belonging to SC/ST/minority/other weaker sections of the society; and to improve the quality the RMSA scheme proposes for construction of science lab, libraries, in service training of teachers, leadership training of school head, curricular reforms, science and mathematics  education, computer aided education, co-curricular activities and teaching learning aids.
The financing pattern for RMSA is 90:10 between the Centre and the state. The requirement of funds for this scheme has been projected to an amount of Rs 20868.35 crores as nonrecurring and Rs 14698.26 crores as recurring totaling Rs 35566.62 crores (Central Share) during the 11th Plan, and the total requirement by 2020 will be Rs. 90485.11 crores with Rs. 37119.03 crore as nonrecurring and Rs. 53366.08 crores as recurring.
The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) is a national programme which has been formulated on the basis of the importance of secondary education which is a crucial stage in the education hierarchy as it prepares the students for higher education and also for the world of work. Classes IX and X constitute the secondary stage, whereas classes XI and XII are designated as the higher secondary stage. The normal age group of the children in secondary classes is 14-16 whereas it is 16-18 for higher secondary classes. The rigour of the secondary and higher secondary stage, enables Indian students to compete successfully for education and for jobs globally. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to strengthen this stage by providing greater access and also by improving quality in a significant way. 
Moreover, the three guiding principles for RMSA implementation are ensuring access, quality and equity in the secondary schools.
The tasks which are to be taken up to address the issue of “access” include expansion and strategy of adding secondary schools and higher secondary schools shifts in existing schools; upgradation of upper primary schools based on micro-planning exercise with all necessary infrastructure facilities and teachers (ashram schools will be given preference while upgrading upper primary schools); upgradation of secondary schools in higher secondary schools based upon the requirements; opening of new secondary schools/higher secondary schools in unreserved areas based on school mapping exercise (all these buildings will have mandatory water harvesting system and will be disabled friendly); rainwater harvesting systems will also be installed in existing school buildings; existing school buildings will also be made disabled friendly; and new schools will also be set up in PPP mode.
The tasks for ensuring the issues of “quality” are providing required infrastructure like blackboard, furniture, libraries, science and mathematics laboratories, computer labs and toilet cluster; appointment of additional teachers and in-service training of teachers; bridge course for enhancing learning ability for students passing out of class VIII; reviewing curriculum to meet the NCF, 2005 norms; and residential accommodations for teachers in rural and difficulty hill areas with special preference to female teachers.
The issues of “equity” requires the provision for free lodging/boarding facilities for students belonging to SC/ST/OBC and minority communities; hostels/residential schools, cash incentive, uniform, books, separate toilets for girls; providing scholarships to meritorious and needy students at secondary level; inclusive education will be the hallmark of all activities and efforts will be made to provide all necessary facilities for the differently abled children in all the schools; and expansion of open and distance learning especially for those who cannot pursue full-time secondary education, and for supplementation/enrichment of face-to-face instruction.
As per the information received from the RMSA State Implementation Society, the proposals approved by PAB for Manipur under Annual Plan for 2009-10 include upgradation of schools, strengthening of existing schools, classrooms, science labs, computer rooms, art/craft/culture rooms, library, separate toilet block and drinking water facilities as well as annual school grant, minor repair grant and in service training of teachers.
It is high time for all to render utmost help and support to the officials of state education department to visualize the goals and objectives of RMSA which aims to bring about universalization of secondary education in the country. Moreover, the concerned authority should also work sincerely to make the RMSA a successful project in the state unlike the SSA which has been partially effective in the state owing to various objections raised from different angles of the society.


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