In February this year the then government constituted two panels and entrusted them to give recommendations on improving literacy rate in J&K state and addressing issues of non-availability of infrastructure in the schools. The announcement for constitution of the two Task Forces was made by then education minister Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari in Legislative Assembly. While principal secretary higher education department and secretary school education department were designated as member secretary of one of the panel, directors of school education of Kashmir and Jammu region were members. The committee was asked to submit its report to government within two months. But, except for a few meetings the initiative remained limited to papers only and later it was shelved altogether after the government ordered reshuffle in portfolio of ministers. The Task Force constituted in school education department was assigned to put forth recommendations for improving infrastructure in schools, introduction of new subjects and regularization of staff at various levels and filling up of vacant posts and referral of vacancies to recruiting agencies.
“The Task Force shall complete the exercise in consultation with legislators within a period of one month and submit its recommendations to the minister for education for his perusal and further instructions,” said the order issued by the department. The team was headed by the then minister of state (MoS) for education while as state project director (SPD) erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), SPD erstwhile Rashtriya Madhiyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), two additional secretaries, joint director planning besides director school education Jammu and Kashmir were appointed as members of the committee. But the team couldn’t take any concrete initiative after holding meetings with the officers of the school education department.
“We held few meetings and started taking feedback from various quarters after involving people from colleges and Universities of the state. But we didn’t get time to execute the feedback and suggest relevant measures to the government,” said former MoS Education J&K, Priya Sethi. She said they had planned to recommend introduction of new subjects in higher secondary schools to bridge a link between the school and higher education department. “We wanted to make a linkage between school and higher education department and chalk out strategy to increase enrollment in government schools as well,” she said, adding the initiatives were in starting phase but the government reshuffled the portfolios of ministers. “I don’t know what happened later,” she said. Sethi was replaced by BJP Legislator Shakti Raj Parihar as MoS education after reshuffle in portfolios.
“I got less time as MoS and have no idea about any such committee.
I didn’t attend or chair any meeting of this Task Force,” Parihar said. As per official figures which were produced in the Legislative Assembly, there are around 23,773 schools out of which 17,901 are without electricity, 17,167 without boundary walls and 17,112 schools without playgrounds. Also, it was stated that 26000 toilet units and lavatories in schools are in a dilapidated condition while as 1000 girls schools are without any toilet facilities. Almost 50 percent of all government schools are in a semi-dilapidated state as well. Commissioner secretary higher education department Sarita Chauhan said no meetings were held during her tenure as secretary of the higher education department.