While the budget announced a 17% increase over last year’s revised estimate in the education sector on Thursday, allocating the HRD ministry Rs 65,867 crore, fine print says something else.
The Right To Education Act, introduced with fanfare in 2010 and reaching its infrastructure deadline in March this year has seen an increase from last year’s Rs 25,555 crore to Rs 27,258 crore this year. But what the increase hides is the consistent inadequacy of the funds when compared to what the cabinet itself had approved as necessary for the fulfillment of the act’s requirements in 2010.
Educationist and CABE member Vinod Raina who was part of drafting the RTE says the cabinet approved 2010 figure had been a total of Rs 2.3 lakh crore for 5 years. On a 65:35 sharing between the centre and the state, this translates to Rs 34,000 crore each year for the Centre. Yet, right from 2011, the amount allocated has been less than this.
Even in, 2011-12, the first year of its allocation, the allocation was the inadequate Rs 21,000 crore. This is the third year of its implementation. Last year it was Rs 25,555 crore and this year it is Rs27,258. “The figure has been consistently less than what the cabinet had approved,” Raina said adding the current allocation is “not enough for RTE”.
Raina added the amount allocated for last year — Rs 25,555 crore was not released properly. “There was a Rs3,000 crore cut from December onwards”. The infrastructure deadline of the Act ends on March 31st, while the teacher training and other norms ends in 2015.
The HRD budget also saw an increase for mid-day meal scheme which increased from Rs11,937 crore last year to Rs13,215 crore. The budget announced the allocation of funds for scholarships for SC,ST , OBC and women allocating Rs5,284 crore to various ministries for the purpose. Higher education has come down to Rs5824.75 cr from last year’s Rs 6484.77 crore.