The Department of Mass Education Extension came into existence from the year 1988 through amendment of the West Bengal Rules of Business vide Home(C & E) Department Notification No 5106-AR dated 21.04.1988, setting up this Department to look after all matters relating to adult education, on-formal education, education for children with special needs and social education not connected with Higher Education. The pre-existing Department of Library Services was also merged into this Department which became the Department of Mass Education Extension & Library Services thereafter.
The basic purpose behind the creation of the Department was to direct the Literacy and Library Movements in the State for the benefit of the common people. With the assumption of office by the present Government 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:
- Running of Educational Welfare Homes
- Education and training for the disabled students
- Running of Shramik Vidyapith, Kolkata
- Running of People’s (Janata) Government College, Banipur, North 24 Parganas and People’s (Janata) Government College at Kalimpong.
Apart from this, West Bengal State Literacy Mission Authority (WBSLMA) is responsible for implementation of the Centrally sponsored literacy programme.
With a rich tradition of Library Movement dating back to the days of Bengali Renaissance and strong legislative framework, the Directorate of Library Services has 13 ( thirteen) 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 libraries 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.