Sometimes it is that one conversation in a day that motivates you. It instills a new energy to continue engaging, find ways to learn more and create new ways of engaging. It was that day yesterday!
We, Biome Environmental Trust, are engaging with couple of government schools in and around Bangalore on rainwater harvesting and activity based learning on water, sanitation and hygiene.
Yesterday could have been any other day. But it was not. We were visiting couple of schools and we stopped to meet one Government High School Head Mistress (HM). We have met her before and at the first meeting itself, she seemed pretty clued in to what she was doing and what we were talking about rainwater harvesting, etc. Her passion for work and dedication towards her children was evident throughout the conversation. But what struck us most was her answer when asked 'why do you want to have RWH at school?' Unlike the usual reasons of less water (though that exists), she said, 'I want this to be installed because I want my kids to learn about water conservation, ways to save water'.
While we were talking yesterday, we got into the conversation about education system especially the financial management part of it. I have always been intrigued about money raising mechanism by government schools for any of the activities in the school. How does the government grant structure work? What are the other options that the schools depend on? This question has been in the mind since, many schools call us to get the non-functional infrastructure components (filter, sumps, pipes, pumps, motors, etc.) to repair or clean. I always wondered can't the school raise the money themselves. So we started talking with the Principal about this. Below is the excerpt from the conversation (interpreted as per my understanding).
Every government high school received per annum grant of Rs. 50,000 under a scheme called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). The fund is given to improve in the physical structures at the school, quality and equity interventions in the school. Then that means, schools do get funds to improve on the physical infra part of it. In addition, High schools also get some contingency grants from Block Education Officers (BEO) grant as part of any maintenance activities. For getting the RMSA grant, school has to create an action plan and in the new financial year the money is transferred to the bank account. For BEO grant, cost estimate and list of works, need to be prepared and submitted. Usually the grant is received at the end of the financial year. This also imply that many a times teachers’ pay from their pocket initially and get it reimbursed later. The bank account is a joint account of school head master (HM) and senior teacher.
The primary schools, on the other hand come under Sarva Shikha Abhiyan scheme (SSA). Unlike RMSA, there is no fixed amount of money allotted per year. The school has to raise a request for the requirements for the next year, SSA authorities take a call and then the money is released. The Cluster Resource Person (CRP) is authorized to go and see the work done according to the plan. The money is transferred to the bank account. Now unlike RMSA, the bank account is jointly held by School HM and President of School Development and Management Committee (SDMC). SDMC is made up parent members, and nominated members and members from the school. The President is a Parent member.
The challenge is how do we engage with this group of people? The SDMC members and the school on the financial management part of it?