N Satyajeet (UNI)
IMPHAL: While the admission of girls in all the Sainik Schools in India had been introduced to prepare them for the National Defence Academy (NDA), the survival of some of these prestigious institutions has become a serious challenge. This stems from the anomalous rules as to whether the Union Ministry of Defence or the respective states should own up the overall budgetary responsibilities to manage the Sainik Schools.
The 22nd Board of Governors meeting of Sainik Schools chaired by State Minister of Defence Shripad Naik opened a pandora’s box with Dr Thokchom Radheshyam , Education Minister of Manipur urging the Union Ministry of Defence to take over all the Sainik Schools to bring a uniformity throughout the country and open more SSB interview centres, particularly for the north eastern region.
In an exclusive interview to UNI, Dr Thokchom Radheshyam stated that there is no uniformity in the style of functioning, the structural design and scholarships for the cadets in all the Sainik Schools in the country. “The north eastern states of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, which do not have much resources have unseen difficulties in managing the Sainik Schools. I am of the view that the Sainik Schools should be completely managed by the Union Ministry of Defence”, Dr Radheshyam said.
Replying to the question why he was urging the Union Ministry of Defence to take over all the Sainik Schools, he said, “there are 1225 Kendriya Vidyalayas in India divided among twenty-five regions and three operated abroad as of December 2019 and approximately 598 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas as of 2015-16 academic year. It is a view of many that the Union Defence Ministry can take over the existing Sainik Schools, which is just about thirty in number. He also mentioned that the existing dormitories and quarters for employees of his Alma Mater Sainik School Imphal are not adequate and the admission of girls in the prevailing conditions is not at all possible. “My school is a proud recipient of the Raksha Mantri Trophy for sending maximum number of cadets to the NDA,” he said.
“The primary objective of Sainik Schools is to groom young minds from all sections of the society to join the National Defence Academy. Sainik School is perfect example of our ancient traditions of Guru-Shisha Parampara in an organised Gurukul system for the overall intellectual, physical and spiritual development of a child. Teachers are available twenty-four hours as a part of the character and nation building process. Large section of the Cadets in the National Defence Academy and all arms of defence and uninformed services are contributed by Sainik School. A product of Sainik School is a strength of the country wherever he or she works.
“I was privileged to take part in the Board of Governors of Sainik Schools Meeting. I was really overwhelmed when all participants gave me due attention while my submissions were encouraged and positively accepted. As of now, I am the only Education Minister in the country as an alumnus of Sainik Sainik,” Radheshyam said.
The Minister said that he would be consulting Education Ministers of the region to highlight the common grievances in terms of the infrastructure, fees of the cadets and the welfare of the administrative and academic staff of the Sainik Schools. He stated that the fifty-year old buildings, including the quarters of the employees of his alma mater are in a pathetic condition. He also cited the need for introducing new and modern technology with digital device to enhance and facilitate teachers to cover the syllabus in virtual classrooms.
Radheshyam said “I had already apprised the Board of Governors regarding the teachers’ welfare which need to be addressed at the earliest. Some of the point I raised include Special Duty Allowance (SDA) and Special Compensatory Allowance (SCA) and some facilities which are not given to Sainik School staff in my region but availed to the working staff of Jawahar Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas. Health schemes, children’s education allowance, among others, for the Sainik School staff throughout the country need attention as they spend their life time in the campus with the cadets. I understand this as an alumnus of the school.”
He added, “I will be making a separate representation to the Union Ministers regarding a one time grant for the construction of the Administrative building, classrooms, quarters and other basic amenities of the school. I would also be looking out for other possible avenues from the Union HRD Ministry for regular funds to support the cadets of Sainik Schools throughout the country”.
Among some of the important issues he raised in the Board of Governors meeting include the timing of SSB interview for NDA. “I have received information from parents across the country that many of the children who cleared the UPSC entrance test for NDA are abruptly sent back home on arrival in Screening Out. The SSB interview is also conducted few weeks before the 12th Board examinations, which can be done later. The response that 7000 candidates cannot be handled by the existing SSB centres is not justified as aspirations of thousands of children are scuttled even before they face the normal SSB procedures. If needed, SSB centres should be increased. I am urging the Ministry concerned to open all three defence wing SSB interview centre for the north eastern region,” Dr Radheshyam said.