NANDKUMAR M KAMAT
ON February 10, Minister of State for Ayush (Independent Charge) Shripad Naik in the presence of IT Minister Rohan Khaunte laid the foundation stone of the new, modern building of Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (GBSHSE) and I recalled the day six years ago when I had persuaded Chief Minister Parrikar to pay a visit to the old premises and address the members of general body.
It was at his official residence in December 2013 when I said in my capacity as elected member of the executive council that as education minister he needs to spare time and interact with members of general body. Since the board is an autonomous, non political entity, I had to move a resolution to invite him and then get it approved from the general body. After learning its lessons from the 1982 marks scandal, GBSHSE had maintained a respectful distance from politicians so I was not sure whether members would support the first ever official visit of the education minister to the board. But the members knew that GBSHSE indeed needed liberal government assistance and then they unanimously supported the resolution. Parrikar kept his word. The ex-chairman of GBSHE Jose Rebello was interested in getting a new building. But his term came to an end before his dream could materialise. Parrikar who was in New Delhi drove straight from Dabolim airport that chilly morning in February 2014. He appeared bit tired when we welcomed him. But he soon got refreshed with a cup or two of tea and then had a fruitful meeting with members of executive council. Coming out of the meeting room suddenly he said, “I want to see your premises and future requirements”. Then he went around and satisfied himself that there was adequate space for construction of a new building. He gave positive indication of what was in his mind before he left.
On Sunday morning, February 10, when the audience, assembled for the foundation stone-laying function, stood up to applaud his contributions in his absence, it was a spontaneous acknowledgement of his gift to GBSHSE. His interaction in February 2014 with general body members was smooth and productive. It resulted in increase in the grant-in-aid to the board. Parrikar issued instructions to GSIDC to take up the work of the new building. On June 28, 2018, the general body of GBSHSE for the first time in its history could interact with the GSIDC consultants and architects and see the full technical presentation of the project. It would have two phases- first one to be completed in 18 months and would cost Rs 26 crore. After the building is fully furnished and equipped, the completed project may cost more than Rs 45 crore. The whole design is based on local architectural traditions and blends smoothly with the landscape. It is designed as an eco-friendly green building with incorporation of all modern facilities which would make GBSHSE as one of the most dynamic institutions in India. The consultants accepted the suggestions of the board members to use solar panels and install rainwater harvesting system.
The GBSHSE general body then did something exceptional- it appointed a project monitoring committee to ensure smooth completion of the building project. In a face-to-face discussion with Chief Minister Parrikar, I found that he had a clear vision of modern education with best use of modern technology and was determined irrespective of criticism and controversies to provide world class infrastructure in Goa. Despite his illness, he was monitoring every stage of the GBSHSE building proposal and expressed his inability to lay down the foundation stone after the work order was issued and site clearance began. He has deliberately maintained a low profile on this project because he was disappointed with the type of criticism he had to face during and after construction of the Atal Setu. But while talking to officials, engineers of GSIDC, I could sense the importance given by Manohar Parrikar to this project. He has always stressed on imparting world-class quality education to students under GBSHSE. He was pleased to nominate me on GBSHSE and said – go there and guide them as an educationist.
As a member of general body of GBSHSE and member of its executive council the state government gave me a free hand and supported all good resolutions. What I found impossible under a self-righteous university system I could get implemented in public interest at GBSHSE where you meet sincere, hard working teachers and headmasters who really care for quality education. Manohar Parrikar knew that he was equipping the GBSHSE to take a giant leap in future after completion of the building project. He instructed the finance department to provide adequate token funds for the project to materialise. So budget 2017-8 and 2018-9 saw the state government providing Rs 4 crore as symbolic grant for the project. Manohar Parrikar had understood that as education minister he needs to take care of GBSHSE which covers 503 educational institutions and more than one lakh students from standards IX to XII. He realised the need to invest heavily at plus 2 stage of the higher education and if one sees the fine details of the proposed building of GBSHSE it would be clear how future needs have been considered. The new IT-enabled building with camera surveillance would have a library for 50, besides 10 well-equipped committee rooms, three strong rooms and a modest auditorium.
For 25 years, GBSHSE somehow managed in an old premises which has become difficult to maintain. Its past efforts to draw the attention of the government towards its financial and infrastructural needs were not taken seriously. But a single visit from Manohar Parrikar in February 2014 changed the course of history. He remained behind the scenes but motivated GSIDC to carefully plan the futuristic project. He encouraged the consultants and architects to make presentation before the general body members of GBSHSE in transparent manner. He could have suggested to symbolically have a function at his residence but he proposed the name of Minister Shripad Naik. IT Minister Rohan clearly outlined the task before GBSHSE while stressing on need to follow an all inclusive policy in education in his speech. People of Porvorim are pleased to see the new addition to the educational hub fast developing on the plateau.