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Implement Right to Education, provide Rs 2 lakh crore to 'laggard' states: RTE Forum

By Our Representative
The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, in a submission to the pre-budget consultation for 2020-21 on December 23 to the Union Finance Ministry, has said that though this year marks 10 years of completion of the enactment of RTE Act, 2009, "Evidence both based on the field reports and macro-data, CAG reports as well as independent studies, points to the multiple areas of non-compliance."
Made by Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, the submission said there is a need to provide a "big push in financial resources to educationally lagging 16 states", pointing towards how the overall picture of inadequacy of current levels of spending does not address "the unequal position of the states."
"Our federal setup makes it important to examine the funds required by each state and their own ability to find resources. Sixteen states are identified where the additional resource requirement exceeds 1 percent of their Gross State Domestic Product. A big push from the Centre for these states is necessary if all regions and all states are to fulfill the RTE mandate", Rai said.
Giving details of the additional resource requirements for RTE, Rai said, these are Bihar (Rs 47,736 crore), UP (Rs 38,316 crore), MP (Rs 22,682 crore), West Bengal (Rs.19,870 crore), Rajasthan (Rs 17,731 crore), Orissa (Rs 13,306 crore), Jharkhand (Rs 11,122 crore), Assam (Rs 10,875 crore), Chhattisgarh (Rs 7,708 crore),  and seven other Special Category States (Rs 10,201 crore). The total comes to Rs 1,99,547 crore.
Rai regretted, the problem has been aggravated because "the Center has consistently reduced its contribution to overall public spending on elementary education in the recent years." At the same time, he added, states should be allowed "to plan and implement their programmes in a way most suited to local needs and conditions."
The submission, quoting official figures, said that in 2016-17 only 12.7% schools complied with the Act's provisions. "It is evident that due to acute financial crunch, the RTE Act couldn’t be realized on ground and universalisation of quality education still remains a distant dream in our country", Rai asserted.
Underling the need to address the "immediate crisis in terms of quality and equity in education" in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals for early childhood and secondary education, he said, "There is an urgent need to enhance budgetary allocation for education and move towards 6% of GDP, which is a long-standing national commitment and has been reaffirmed in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019.”
The Center has consistently reduced its contribution to overall public spending on elementary education
According to Rai, "There is need to make a departure from the practice of incremental budgeting and adopt a clear financial roadmap for universalization of elementary education compliant with the RTE Act 2009", adding, this roadmap should be "based on the framework of equitable financing, which would allow public education of equitable quality for everyone."
Insisting on the need to prioritize quality of education, Rai said, investing in teachers should be "the biggest determinant of quality education", adding, this should be backed up with "filling teacher vacancies and strengthening teacher training and onsite support." Other measures required include "ensuring adequate, timely availability of teaching learning materials including textbooks and libraries."
Rai said, there should be "greater investment in the education of out of school children, migrants and child labourers, especially those in educationally lagging areas and from marginalized communities to address educational inequality".
Wanting "greater emphasis" on making education "gender transformative", Rai said, there is a need to "invest for the education of girls and ensure availability of more public secondary schools in the neighbourhood", especially in of the fact that "relatively less number of girls transit to secondary level", which is especially for girls from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.

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