Activists demand more funds for RTE in the budget

File Photo: A school in Gujarat in West India.

Education sector experts have renewed the demand for more allocation to the sector in this year’s budget. They are seeking expansion of Right to Education law to include the education up to the higher secondary level and coverage of all students up to the age of 18 years.

After facing a huge funds cut last year, educationists are hoping for some relief in the upcoming budget.

Activists are seeking increased budgetary allocation to meet Right to Education Act requirements.

National Convener, RTE Forum, Ambarish Rai want the government to expand the Right to Education law to cover the education from pre-primary to higher secondary level.

“We should bring children up to the age of 18 yrs because apart from RTE we don’t have any other mode wherein within time frame we can sustain enrollment and impart education,” said Ambarish Rai.

Shortage of teachers in government school is a major concern that educationists want the government to address by strengthening the sector with enough finance.

Yamini Aiyar, Director of Accountability Initiative said ‘more than 35% of the government primary schools fail in Pupil –Student ratio. 60 Lakh students are out of school. Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan has failed miserably.’

Governments have been cutting budgets since 2013,in FY 2014-15, 54,925 crore was approved under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a drop of 22 percent from FY 2012-13.

Despite that NDA’s initiatives like the School Assessment Programme and the Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya New Teachers Training Programme, India still needs 9.4 lakh new teachers.

We need to relook how we are training our teachers. You can’t do it by cutting down resources,’ said Charu Malhotra, education Expert.

In the background of the emphasis on skill education, low levels of learning are a challenge for government. As per the official data, only 48 per cent of Class Five students can read the Class Two text.

Experts draw a direct link between low level of learning and lack of resources coming from budget.

‘’I really hope to see clear statement by the Finance Minister about this governments commitment to improve the quality of education and I would be keen for govt to say that is what we have allocated,” said Yamini.

Ambarish Rai , National Convener , RTE Forum says budgeted estimates have never matched the revised estimates in education and there has been a long history of under spending in the sector.

“At a time when we need to strengthen our education system then you are deducting money from Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)” she said.

Kothari Commission report in 1996 had recommended to raise budget spending on education to the level of 6 percent of Gross National Product (GNP). After, fifty years of Kothari Commission recommendation, the spending on education was only 4.02 percent of the GDP in 2012-13 (BE), and still stagnant at 4%.