RTE needs more allocation, better spending: Experts

The budget allocation for primary education, now particularly for RTE has increased but it is nowhere close to the target UPA set for itself

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | March 12, 2012



Raising expenditure on education to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP), was one of the promises the Congress-led UPA made at the start of its first term in 2004. But (according to CBGA’s latest report) the present total public spending on education works out to a mere 3.39% of the GDP (2008-09).

The major achievement of the UPA in education has been the implementation of the right to education Act, which will soon complete two years. The Act promises free and compulsory education to each and every child below 14 years, needs more allocation and attention, say experts.

The budget allocation for primary education, now particularly for RTE has increased but it is nowhere close to the target UPA set for itself.

In 2010-11, the year in which RTE was implemented, Rs 15,000 crore was allocated for it. Soon, the operational norms of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan were revised to implement the right to education. And in 2011-12 the allocation for RTE was increased by 40% to make it Rs 21,000 crore. The centre and state has to share the expenditure for RTE by 65:35.

But it is far less than what was promised says Vinod Raina, an educationist and member of CABE that helped draft the RTE Act. “We definitely need more allocation for RTE. The government had allocated Rs 2.31 lakh crore for a period of five years for setting up infrastructure for implementing the act. Each year Rs 48000 crore had to be spent. Central government last year released only Rs 21000 crore this when combined with the funds from the state governments makes it around Rs 30,000 crore, which is Rs 18,000 crore less than the actual amount said to be spend.”

Kiran Bhatty, national coordinator of RTE division NCPCR agrees. She says “We need more allocation because we need more classrooms, toilets and teachers to ensure RTE is implemented fully.”

Outlays are inefficient to begin with and even those amounts are not fully spent. The budget allotted for implementing RTE act and previously for various education schemes have not be properly utilized by many states. There is a huge gap between allocations and expenditures. According to CBGA’s report, the per capita spending at the state level has sharp fluctuations with the lowest spending by Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Bhatty says though budget is the biggest problem, delay in fund flow is a much bigger problem.

“Money is not reaching the ground level in time. In many states, schools receive their first installment in June and second installment only by February. So they actually have just a month to spend the money.” She adds that even if the budget allocated for elementary education and RTE has been increased the amount that reaches school remains the same.

“Money seems to be allocated during budget but what happens after that it is a different story. Where it goes and how it is utilized no one knows,” she said.

Vinod Raina says there are many crucial areas under RTE, and the government is not spending much on it. “Whatever the amount is released many state governments are unable to utilize the funds. So there are two important things to look at. Firstly, adequate funds should be released by the centre and the state and secondly the ability of the state government to use funds timely.”

The slow flow of funds has also resulted in delaying contracts for buildings, and other infrastructure projects says Anil Sadgopal, an educationist. He adds because of this contracts for buildings and other infrastructure projects could not be given and the money goes back to the centre.

“Government has a good example of running best model school – central schools. But they are maintaining low quality education system in government schools. Under utilization of funds is also part of the system. We need to decentralize the system to ensure it functions properly.”

Sadgopal also believes that there has been no real increase in budget allocation as projected by the government. “Government is collecting 2% cess for elementary education. They are collecting additional money from the public every year.”
 

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