Agartala, Dec 12 (IANS) The Left Front government in Tripura Wednesday announced free education to poor students, covering the entire period of school education, up to class 12.
The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, of the central government offers free education only up to Class 8.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said that starting from the next academic session, beginning January, students belonging to BPL (below poverty line) families would get free text books and other facilities up to class 12.
"The decision was taken aiming at universalisation of education, and to achieve 100 percent literacy from the existing 90 percent," Sarkar told reporters, adding that poor students would be charged no fees.
He said: "Up to Class eight, all students are now getting free school textbooks and various other facilities. Currently, poor students up to Class 10 have been getting free school textbooks and other facilities."
According to the chief minister, there are 44,000 students belonging to BPL families now studying in Tripura. If one were to include students up to Class 12, the number would increase by several thousand in the next academic year.
"Though the central government had promised to universalise education in the country within 10 years of India's Independence, the declaration has still remained unfulfilled," Sarkar said.
He said the Left Front government in Tripura is probably the only state government in the country which has been providing free education to all, covering the whole of school-level education.
The Tripura council of ministers, at a meeting here Tuesday, also decided to increase the emoluments of the teachers working in the Islamic madrasas.
According to School Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty, the Left Front government has been spending more than 20 percent of its total annual budget on the education sector, while the central government's funding in this sector was less than 10 percent.
In Tripura, there are about 800,000 students studying in 4,600 schools.