Planning Department says School Education Department does not have powers to approve the new scheme
A scheme to set up mini science centres in aided schools across the state from this financial year has been scrapped because the Planning Department says that the School Education Department does not have legal powers to approve such an idea.
Pic for representation/Thinkstock
The School Education Department wanted legislators to contribute around Rs 1.85 lakh each from their local area fund for the centres. Senior minister Vinod Tawde-led School Education Department had issued a government resolution (GR) for setting up mini science centres at the cost of Rs 1.85 lakh each on May 18 this year.
Selected schools run by local self-governments and aided private bodies were to get these centres. Tawde’s department scrapped the decision through a new GR on August 14.
The old GR had specified that each centre would require funding to the tune of Rs 1.85 lakh, including one-time amount of Rs 1 lakh for scientific models in subjects like astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics, Rs 25,000 for training science teachers (instructors), and recurring cost of Rs 25,000 each for maintenance and supervision of the centres.
The Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training was put in charge of implementing the scheme. However, when this proposal reached the Planning Department, headed by Sudhir Mungantiwar, it opined that the subject came under its purview as per the guidelines issued on September 13, 2011.
Highly placed officials in Mantralaya said that, at the very least, the scheme will be delayed or may not take off this year in view of technical issues. They also said that some legislators were also opposed to the idea.
“A decision to include this work and approve grant for the same is expected to be issued by the Planning Department. It will be appropriate for the School Education Department to carry forward the scheme after such a decision is approved,” the Planning Department said while stalling the scheme on technical grounds.
The School Education Department issued a GR on August 14 in which it has explained to the authorities concerned the issues raised by the Planning Department. “In view of this (the suggestion and objection), it is decided that only a decision about the policy be sent to Planning Department and scrap the earlier decision (in which expenditure details were incorporated),” said the GR signed by under-secretary R V Phanasekar, who had also issued the earlier GR. Both ministers were not available for comment. The officials concerned refused to comment, saying that the GRs issued were self-explanatory.
What are mini science centres?
In May this year, school education minister Vinod Tawde conceptualised the scheme to make students understand complex subjects like science easily so that they are encouraged to take it up as a career option.
Selected schools were to have a 500-sq ft room and appoint one instructor, who could either be a lab assistant or a science teacher. Schools complying with RTE norms were eligible for the scheme. Models in subjects like astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics were to be in place.