NAMMA SCHOOL FOUNDATION SCHEME

  • Data furnished on the website for the recently launched Namma School Foundation (NSF) scheme showed that all the government-run schools in Tamil Nadu have together given a massive wish-list for ₹68,656 crore to improve their infrastructure.
  • This is 86% more than the School Education Department’s budget estimate of ₹36,896 crore for 2022-23. Officials, however, said the demands are likely to come down as the requirements are being verified at multiple levels.
  • The initiative is aimed at implementing a transparent and effective mechanism for donors, especially private companies contributing from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
  • Around 39,000 schools, including those run by the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare and Social Welfare Departments, come under the scheme. The total demands mean that each school is in need of roughly ₹1.75 crore, on an average.
  • The NSF website allows potential donors to see the requirements even at the school level so that they contribute according to their interest.
  • It shows requirements under such categories as health and hygiene, sports, labs, smart classrooms, school buildings, maintenance, quality of learning and initiatives for children with special needs. These are further divided into sub-categories.
  • According to the data available on the website as on Tuesday, buildings-related requirements accounted for 50% of the total demands. These were followed by maintenance and smart classrooms.
  • On the huge amount of funds required by the schools, a senior official of the School Education Department said this was based on the indicative list provided by each school. “Every school will aspire for what they consider the best infrastructure. Some may have adequate infrastructure, but want to better it. Hence, the initial list is largely an expression of their aspirations,” he said.
  • He said the requirements will be verified by the engineering department first and then by the respective School Management Committees (SMCs) to assess whether they are genuinely needed.
  • While the verification by the engineering department is almost complete, the verification by the SMCs is under way. He added that if a donor expressed interest in donating to a particular school, there would be another level of verification by the respective district-level committees headed by the Collectors before the schools got access to the funds.
  • Asked about the need for uploading the information on the website before the verification was fully over because this might mislead the donors, he said that publishing the information on the website increased transparency and enabled another level of scrutiny by members of the public.
  • He added the data was updated real time as and when a verification was complete. Moreover, the donors would not be misled as their funds would be utilised only after verification and they could track their utilisation

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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