Himansu Shekhar Rout

Even as the Odisha government is yet to give any positive signals for the implementation of the Centre-sponsored PM SHRI Yojana despite repeated reminders from the Union Ministry of Education to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the stage is all set for the rollout of the scheme in all Navodaya Vidyalayas and Kendriya Vidyalayas in the state on Sunday. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is scheduled to inaugurate it at 3 pm tomorrow. 

The scheme aims at bolstering the education system by ensuring quality education in a student-friendly environment with an overhaul of infrastructure.  

However, the issue has acquired a political turn with questions being raised by opposition parties about why the state government is cringing back to execute the scheme, at a time when the quality of education is arguably not up to the mark at government-run schools due to teachers’ shortage and infra crunch. 

It is widely discussed that the Centre wants to send a strong message to the ‘reluctant’ state government by implementing this scheme first in the Centre-run schools in Odisha.   

Some others suspect that the state government fears the credit of success will go to the Centre for the scheme under which over 14,500 schools in the country will transformed into model schools at a budgetary allocation of Rs 27,360 crore. 

These schools will be modelled as ideal institutions with high-tech laboratories, libraries, smart classrooms, and the use of the latest technology ensuring high-quality education from the play school level to the higher secondary level in an equitable, inclusive, and joyful environment, with a focus on cognitive development as well as the creation of holistic and well-rounded individuals. 

Also Read: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan reminds Odisha CM about PM SHRI again 

Students will be equipped with key 21st-century skills and be offered a wide range of learning experiences in an environment equipped with good infrastructure and appropriate resources. 

Educationist RN Panda welcomed the scheme, saying that these schools will help in the all-round development of students as schools will have modern laboratories, libraries, and playgrounds and use advanced technology.

As per reports, many states and Union Territories have signed MoUs with the Union Ministry of Education for implementation of the scheme. After the selection of schools to be included under the scheme, funds will be allocated to the state.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the state government for dilly-dallying on the scheme. “The state government is affected by narrow-mindedness as far as the execution of PM SHRI is concerned. As a result of which, the state is going to lose over Rs 16,000 crore,” said Odisha BJP spokesperson, Anil Biswal.

He also stated, “We are surprised to see such an attitude of the state government towards the scheme through which the central government wants to bring about a massive transformation in school education. What kind of fear is gripping the state government?”   

However, the Congress saw BJP’s political agenda in the implementation of the scheme. Krushnachandra Pati, spokesperson of the Odisha Congress observed, “What kind of message does the Centre want to send by implementing the scheme? The implementation of the scheme is only aimed at the publicity of the Central government when the elections are underway in five states and ahead of the 2024 elections.”

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Parshuram Dhada said, “Our Chief Minister has already taken initiatives to transform the school education through Mo School Abhiyan and 5T. When school education in Odisha is seeing a revolutionary change, the centre is bringing PM SHRI, which will not yield results.”             

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