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Education outlay receives mixed reactions

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The New Indian Express
March 01, 2013

The allocation for education in the Union Budget received bouquets and brickbats as experts got candid about the announcements made.

While the outlay for the Right to Education Act (RTE) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan stands at Rs 27,258 crore, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) has seen an increase of roughly 27 per cent at Rs 3,983 crore. The allocation for the Midday Meal Scheme is Rs 13,215 crore for 2013-14.

Former minister B K Chandrashekar said that there is no clarity on the percentage of GDP set aside for education with regard to inflation. “We still haven’t reached six per cent of the GDP allocated to education and the Budget has failed to disclose the vital statistics,” he said.

He also pointed out that allocation for RMSA is significant as the enrolment of students in primary education has gone up to 80 to 90 per cent across most schools. It is a good announcement as secondary education is most important in the present scenario and the allocation has an increase of 26 per cent as compared to last year’s announcement. The increase in the Midday Meals Scheme is a good sign. An increase of `250-500 crore in scholarships for minorities and SC/STs would have been good, he added.

However, V P Niranjan Aradhya from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) observed that the announcement was disappointing to children and people working towards implementation of the RTE. Though there is an increase in the overall budget, the money allocated for RTE under SSA is much lower. The RTE share in the budget is Rs 27,258 crore.

As compared to last year, the increase is only Rs 1,703 crore, which is drastically lower as compared to 2011-12 and 2012-13 where the corresponding increase was roughly 21 per cent, Aradhya pointed out. The budget has failed to keep its promise of effectively implementating RTE in the forthcoming year, Aradhya added.

Vijay Shukla, managing partner of Eduvisors, said the increase in 17 per cent for education compared to last year translates to just about Rs 220 per student per month in schools and colleges. It is clearly insufficient for the government to be able to provide quality education to a large number of aspiring Indians. The Budget is minimalistic and lacks the importance and thrust it should have been given, he added.

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