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17% fall in India's allocation for universal education, Central share down by 47%: RTE Forum to Union finance ministry

By Our Representative
In a submission to Union finance minster Arun Jaitley, India's well-known advocacy group, Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has has raised the alarm that the budgetary allocation for universal education, sought to be achieved through the Government of India's flagship programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is down by 17%.
Pointing out that overtime the Union government is reducing its budgetary allocation for school education, it says, the SSA budget in 2014-15 was Rs 28,258 crore, which dropped down to Rs 23,500 crore in 2017-18, a 17% decrease, adding, not only there is a trend in lesser budget allocation, even Central share to states for SSA "is continuously failing to keep its promise."
"Of the total approved outlay, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) committed to share 65 percent, i.e, Rs 5,214 crore of the total fund. However, the audited expenditure shows, that in 2015-16, MHRD had released only Rs 2,437 crore, which is only 47 percent of the approved outlay committed", added.
Prepared by Ambarish Rai, convener, RTE Forum at the Pre-Budget Consultation, the submission says, India is "long committed to spending 6% GDP on education. This was a recommendation of the Kothari Commission. However, India's spending continues to fall short. Indeed, India continues to spend below the global average on education (3.7% GDP, 2017)."
The RTE Forum regrets, on its enactment, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, no financial memorandum was attached to implement the its various provisions, adding, "On multiple occasions, calculations have been made to determine the amount of money that needs to be allocated to attain the goal of universal education for all. However, the funds actually allocated have always fallen short of the necessary amount."
Thus, it says, "Compared to the requirement of public expenditure per student, actual expenditure in Bihar is only about 31 percent. Similarly, in Jharkhand and Orissa the actual spending is 44 percent of their requirements. In Madhya Pradesh it is a little more than half (52 percent)."
The submission further says, "After seven years of commencement of the RTE Act, there is a teacher vacancy of 17.51% (more than 9 lakhs) in government schools at the elementary and at secondary level it is 14.78%. Around 10 % percent primary schools are only single teachers. Their service conditions, qualifications and salaries vary widely."
It adds, "Among the existing teachers in government schools, about 20 percent are untrained and the proportion of trained qualified teachers has been almost stagnant since 2010. As per official data, the share of professionally trained teacher varies from 52.2 percent in Bihar to 99 percent in Maharashtra."
The submission says, "The District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), conceived as teacher training and curriculum development institutions, have failed to live up to their roles. Studies have shown that 17% of the DIETs do not have their own building, 40% do not have their own hostel facility while 70% have no librarian. There is also about 80% vacancy in faculty positions in some states."
It underlines, "The share of schools complying with the entire set of RTE norms has never crossed 10% of schools; indeed, latest estimates by the RTE Forum suggest that the share has declined. Over all infrastructural availability rate is 76.33%. This has impacted drop out of children especially girls belonging to marginalised sections of the society."
On girls' education, the submission says, "They are still out of school because they do not feel safe and secure in schools. Even separate toilet for girls is not available after seven years of RTE. In 2016-17 revised estimate had been just Rs 43 crore, which even doubled in 2017-2018 is not adequate."

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