VP expresses concern over fall in social sector funding

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Vice President of India, Md. Hamid Ansari.

File photo of Vice President of India, Md. Hamid Ansari.

Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari has expressed concerns over the decline in the funding of social sector, including education, by the government in last two years. Speaking at an event in Kochi, the Vice President pitched for enhanced allocation for key welfare schemes so that falling incomes of parents do not impact their children’s education.

“The money allocated for key centrally sponsored social schemes — Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Health Mission–declined by about 5 per cent, 8 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, over the last two years,” he said.

Noting that the education is the key to nurturing participatory growth, he emphasised the financing of education in the country “remains inadequate”.

“Total public expenditure for education, at less than 3.5 per cent of GDP, is presently well below the six per cent commitment made in various National Education Policies,” VP Ansari said inaugurating the fourth phase of the Vidyadhanam project, piloted by Prof KV Thomas Vidyadhanam Trust in Kochi.

Students taking part in state board examination in Bihar. Photo- Biharboard

The Vice President also said that at 52 per cent, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) received more than half the money under school education allocation in the latest budget, but over the last five years, funding for it has declined by six per cent, from Rs 23,873 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 22,500 crore for 2016-17.

Underlining that as many as 66 per cent of the country’s primary school students attend government schools or government-aided schools, he said “the decline in state funding in the key social sector programmes, including education, is also a particular concern.”

Pitching the need to increase the government investments in education, he stressed “it is also essential to maintain the funding levels of other social welfare schemes, especially those operating in the rural sector-to ensure that falling incomes of parents do not impact the educational prospects of in-school children.”

Meanwhile, he lauded the Vidyadhanam project, launched by Lok Sabha member KV Thomas in his constituency Ernakulam.

“It not only provides financial incentive and scholarship to bright students from Government and aided schools, but also encourages cultivation of life skills, such as thrift and financial inclusion,” he said.

(With inputs from the PTI)