PANAJI: When Manohar Parrikar became chief minister a year ago, he not only decided to keep the education portfolio with him like in his previous terms, he also announced that he was committed to revamping the education sector in Goa. Twelve months later, it appears that his plans have been set in motion, proving that the education sector is indeed close to his heart.
Parrikar had stated that he would clear the entire backlog of laptops for higher secondary school students, created due to non-distribution of laptops for the two preceding years. Almost immediately, the Info Tech Corporation of Goa procured 45,000 laptops at a cost of over Rs 85 crore, clearing the backlog as well as providing them to students currently studying.
The process was also set rolling for the appointment of 50 more counselors for schools. Goa is the first state in which counselors are appointed in institutions as a state initiative, and over 56,000 students are benefitting from this so far.
Parrikar had said that the state government would improve the quality of midday meals served to students, and, accordingly, Iskcon’s internationally-acclaimed Akshay Patra is to supply midday meals on a pilot basis to schools at the Cujira school complex. The process is on to acquire land for Akshay Patra to set up its kitchen.
Similarly, honouring his promise to deliver the best of facilities at the Cujira school complex, the area is slated to undergo a Rs 10 crore revamp under a new redevelopment plan. However, the story is different in South Goa, as the state government is struggling to ward off opposition land acquisition in Davorlim for a similar school complex for Margao city.
A financial literacy programme has also already been made part of the curriculum from Class IX to XII, as promised.
“Parrikar had also promised that the scheme for education for children with special needs would be revised to make it more robust,” an education department official said. “Accordingly a committee of experts was formed, and they have already submitted their recommendations to the CM. The recommendations state that children with special needs should be provided teachers in areas like dance, sports, and crafts. The new scheme will also relax the student-teacher ratio and it will be based on severity of the disability, with those with acute disability getting even one teacher per student.”
Also, as Parrikar had promised, a survey has been conducted on the vocational interests of children with special needs to make them employable.
This article was first published on Times of India on 14th March 2018