Skip to main content

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down


By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.
A Right to Education (RTE) Forum analysis indicates that more than 1,30,000 schools have been closed across the country. It is time to reiterate and prioritize the importance of universalisation of school education. There has been a massive shift from the budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherji in 2010-2011 and the budget speech of 2020. Pranab Mukherji in 2010 focused on the fundamental right to education and mentioned in his budget speech that:
“The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 creates a framework for legal entitlements for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years to education of good quality, based on principles of equity and non-discrimination. In recent years, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has made significant contribution in improving enrolment and infrastructure for elementary education.
"About 98 per cent of habitations are now covered by primary schools. I propose to increase the plan allocation for school education from Rs.26,800 crore in 2009-10 to Rs.31,036 crore in 2010-11. In addition, states will have access to Rs.3,675 crore for elementary education under the Thirteenth Finance Commission grants for 2010-11”.

In 10 years, SSA, which was the umbrella programme for the implementation of RTE, has been merged with RMSA (Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan) and a scheme on teacher education. The scheme under which SSA has been merged is now called the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SMSA), which includes pre-primary till class 12.
This shift has been made allegedly to meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 and 4.5, which are aimed at achieving universal education from pre-primary till secondary level and eliminate gender disparities ensuring equal access at all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situation.
Further, the budget on education has shifted to digitalization and on-line programmes on education to ensure quality education. There is no mention of completion and full implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 rather like every year SMSA has been a meager increase of Rs 2,428 crore compared to the previous year budget.
A paper by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) committee indicates a tentative estimation of total additional costs between Rs 3,21,000 crore and Rs 4,36,000 crore over six years, which indicates an allocation of Rs 72,000 crore each year for the implementation of the Act. In 2010 nearly half of the total estimate was allocated, which increased to 4% of the total union budget in 2013-2014.
An incremental approach to budget for education is neglect of the fundamental right to education and universalisation of education. The CABE committee report or the Janardhana Reddy Committee report in its chapter IX stressed on universalisation of elementary education.
The report mentioned that and compulsory education of satisfactory quality should be provided to all children up to 14 years of age. A national mission should be launched for the achievement of this goal, it added. It was also proposed to set up primary schools within a distance of 1 km and senior primary schools within the distance of 2 or 3 kms.
The government now is only emphasising on non-formal education, on-line education, digitalization of education, skill training
These amendments were accepted. It was realized that without instituting a system of free and compulsory education in the country it is not possible to ensure education for all, and the need for investing at least 6% of GDP was reiterated and prioritized.
However, now the government is reversing things, and instead of focusing on universalisation of education through a system of free and compulsory education for 3-18 years of children, it is emphasising on non-formal education, on-line education, digitalization of education, skill training in its discourse. The expenditure for education sector as percentage of GDP decreased to 2.8% in 2014-15 from 3.84% in 2013-2014 and is still staggering at 3.1% in 2019-20.
This year's budget, again, mentions that a New Education Policy (NEP) will be announced soon. However, there is no mention of RTE and how it is imperative to increase investment at least to reach to somewhere near the 6% GDP, which was calculated long back in 1966 and recommended by the Tapas Mazumdar committee in 1999.
Financing of education and responsibility of the state has been under national debate and has been globally vetted by civil society networks and political party manifestoes. Lack of basic infrastructure for schools is just not concrete pipes and wires but collection of systems -- material, social and political -- so that children participate in social and economic life.
Closure of schools, shrinking role of state, and allocation of resources not based on need but on an incremental basis will never be able to achieve the goal of fundamental right to education for all children.
The RTE Act laid the foundation of universalisation of education in the country. It is about education with a normative framework which will make education equitable and universal. It is about state responsibility and primary role of teachers for ensuring quality education. It is about role of community and school community relations for monitoring and planning for the development of the school.
All these require resources and investment in education, which has led to development in many countries across the globe. The draft NEP has suggested extension of RTE to pre-primary to secondary education. Without adequate resources this is another hyperbole and unreal for translating the goal to reality.
Incremental resource allocation without a needs assessment will never be able to address the following challenges of universalisation of school education today:
  • More than a lakh schools have been closed in the neigbourhood of children without any transport facility. 
  • Increasing inequality through pushing children to low quality low budget school (non-compliance to RTE norms) due to unavailability of schools in the habitation of children as mandated in the Act. 
  • Lack of teachers in school (vacancy 34.4.% in Bihar, 29 % in UP, 24% in Chhattisgarh to name a few) and contractual teachers are impacting quality education 
  • RTE compliance in schools 12.5%. There is no electricity in majority primary schools in the country.
  • Different forms of public private partnership (PPP) and influence of private education (Edu-tech, learning apps, standardized tests, assessment, handing over government schools to private management NGOs, English medium government schools, entrance based model schools) into the public education system. 
  • Expanding market in school education through tuition centres, coaching classes, on-line courses, private schools, low school private schools and excessive dependence on philanthropic fund, Corporate Social Responsiblity (CSR) funds in school education. 
---
*RTE enthusiast, assistant professor at the Council For Social Development, New Delhi

Comments

Unknown said…
In my opinion and experience there is a double burden of budget on education as one side there is no sufficient No.of enrollment in primary schools, for that Govt. Giving salary to staff without having justified work and on the other hand Govt. Is going to give payment
for RTE students.
kishore said…
RTE act treats teachers as criminals.so there is no discipline in the schools
Anonymous said…
Rte act treats teachers as criminals. So there is no discipline in schools.
Priyanka Mokale said…
Under RTE act government is making whole education privatize and creating discrimination in between rich and poor.Education is right of every children,but because of the privatization pior parents can't afford it.So sad
Anonymous said…
nice

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."