December 28, 2013
Mass Education: West Bengal surges ahead in every aspects
A researcher wanted to refer to an edition of Mahabharata by Sarada Prasad Gyananidhi and Shyama Charan Tarkabagish, published in circa 1867. Another researcher wanted to consult the Shib Sanghita by Kali Prasanna Bidyaratna published in around 1885. They could do so at the click of a mouse, thanks to the Government of West Bengal. People can now access these rare pieces of literature, uploaded by the Mass Education Department of the State Government on their website.
The Mass Education Extension and Library Services Department of the Government of West Bengal has been doing exemplary work for the past two and half years to reach out to the people. After assuming office in May 2011, the whole spectrum of activities of the Department received a fresh lease of life, and accordingly, it has redefined its role, redesigned its functional pattern and reworked its priorities for catering to the needs of the people across the State.
The Department has under its administrative control two Directorates viz. (1) Directorate of Mass Education Extension and (2) Directorate of Library Services. Besides, West Bengal State Literacy Mission Authority (WBSLA), a body registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961, functions under the overall administrative control of the Department.
Directorate of Mass Education Extension is responsible for execution of the various policies formulated by the Government and is assigned the responsibilities for implementation of various programmes of the Department in a time bound manner .
At present, the Directorate is entrusted with the responsibilities of carrying out the following activities:
1) State-funded Literacy Programme
2) Running of Social Welfare Homes
3) Education and training for the disabled students
4) Audio Visual Education
5) Running of Adult High Schools
6) Running of Shramik Vidyapith, Kolkata
7) Running of People's (Janata) Government College, Banipur, North 24 Parganas and People’s (Janata) Government College at Kalimpong.
West Bengal State Literacy Mission Authority (WBSLMA) is responsible for implementation of the Centrally sponsored literacy programme — Saakshar Bharat in nine (9) districts of the State in accordance with the policy guidelines of the National Literacy Mission Authority (NLMA), GOI, and under the overall control of the Department.
Directorate of Library Services, through its well spread out Library network, caters to the needs of the people of the State cutting across caste, creed, sex and religious beliefs. With a rich tradition of Library Movement dating back to the days of Bengali Renaissance and strong legislative frame work, the Directorate of Library Services has 12 ( twelve) Government Libraries( including the State Central Library in Kolkata) and 2460 ( two thousand four hundred sixty) sponsored Libraries Besides, there are 7 (Seven) Government aided Libraries run by Non-Government organizations with State Government’s regular financial assistance.
The central focus of the Library system of the State is not only to intellectually empower the people but also to disseminate information to the rural and urban youths so as to enable them to equip themselves for successfully competing in the stiff employment market. This apart, preservation of the rare and old books, digitization of the Library system, and modernization of the Libra rise in terms of their infrastructure and facilities for the benefit of the readers and further expansion of the Library network are the major areas of activities of the Directorate.
A major thrust was given on infrastructural development of Government and Government sponsored public libraries by way of grants of construction, repair, renovation as well as purchase of books, furniture, etc. Funds to the tune of Rs. 92.46 lakh were released as financial assistance to public libraries in Jangalmahal as against Rs.12.8 lakh in 2009-10 and Rs.14.86 lakh in 2010-11.Whilst no funds had been released to the public libraries in the Hill Areas of Darjeeling during 2009-10 and 2010-11, funds amounting to Rs. 74.54 lakh were granted in 2011-12 to these libraries in 2011-12. Book Fairs were successfully organized in all districts of the State including Darjeeling where this event was hosted after almost nine years.
Among its other works, the Mass Education Extension & Library Services Department supports 49 State Welfare/ Aided Homes for destitute children and another 5 Homes for young women in distress. It has taken up extensive modernization programme of public libraries through computerization. Comprehensive training program of library personnel has been launched in phases. The vision is that State Central Library, the District libraries and the 370 towns and rural libraries to begin with, would provide information relating to the lives and livelihood of people through community information services.
Major Achievements/Decisions till November 15, 2012
Phased introduction of exclusive all women’s libraries on a pilot basis is also proposed from the year 2012-13, in order to increase access to women readers including neo literates especially in the areas inhabited predominantly by minorities and other disadvantaged segments.
A mapping of public libraries in the State along with survey on the status of their services and infrastructure, recommendations for transforming them into more vibrant platforms for knowledge is being commissioned as per decision of the State Library Council, the apex statutory body governing public libraries in the State.
Disbursement of salaries of the employees of Government Sponsored Public Libraries has been arranged on the first day of every month. This is being ensured on the ‘Zero Balance Salary Account’ in individual employee’s name through public sector banks.
The existing scheme of Community Library cum Information Centre (CLIC) meant to cater to Gram Panchayats having no Government or Government sponsored libraries, is proposed to be revamped in a manner that they function as effective media for reaching information including publicity on government welfare measures to the public at the grass roots level.
Funds to the tune of Rs 570 lakhs have been released so far for the upkeep of destitute women and children in institutional care and maintenance of meant for students with special needs.
In the nationwide mop-up evaluation of learners under Saakshar Bharat held in August, 2012 , against a target of 7.4 lakh learners for the State, 3.01 lakh participated from the 9 districts covered under this programme in the State.
Process for establishment of a State Welfare Home in Jungalmanhal has started with the taking over possession of land in Purulia II Development Block. Proposal is under process for obtaining land for a State Welfare Home in Islampur in North Bengal.
The State Govt. with the assistance of National Mission for Manuscripts (an autonomous body constituted by Govt. of India) will be strengthening the State wide programme to survey and preserve the manuscripts belonging to different libraries and also to build awareness among various cross sections of the society.
The Sponsorship Scheme for special schools supported by the Department is also being restructured. A specific change in the format of special schools is inter alia, proposed for ensuring wider coverage of students with special need.