States may be asked to help fund education plan
Plans to implement the Right To Education (RTE) Act ensuring compulsory education for children in the age group 6-14 may place the Centre and state governments at loggerheads, reports Chetan Chauhan.delhi Updated: Nov 20, 2009 01:48 IST
Plans to implement the Right To Education (RTE) Act ensuring compulsory education for children in the age group 6-14 may place the Centre and state governments at loggerheads.
The Planning Commission has proposed substantial financial burden on state governments to implement the Act in the next five years, in three phases.
For the first phase, the state will have to bear 40 per cent of the total plan costs, in the second phase 45 per cent and in the third, 50 per cent. The remaining funds for the three phases will be borne by the Central government.
To fund this proposal, the commission believes it will have to spare Rs 1,42,000 crore in the next five years as against the HRD ministry’s estimate of Rs 1,74,000 crore.
“What the HRD ministry has estimated is an over-statement. We believe that with Rs 1,42,000 crore and with the help of state governments, RTE can be successfully implemented,” said a senior Planning Commission official on condition of anonymity.
The Parliament had in 2002 approved the Constitutional amendment providing the right to education. Since then, the Central government had failed to introduce a bill to implement the amendment as state governments refused to share the financial burden.
It was only in July 2009, when the Central government proposed that the 13th Finance Commission would decide the expenditure-sharing model, that the Parliament approved the Right to Education and Compulsory Education Bill without any dissent.
Apart from free education, the law stipulates a mandatory student-teacher ratio, basic school infrastructure and a parent grievance redressal mechanism.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal, while introducing the bill, had termed it as a landmark law in the field of “inclusive education”.
“We have provided the new formula on the basis of inputs from the Finance Commission,” the commission official said. “It is on the principle that the school education is primarily a state subject.”
Apart from sharing the burden of plan funds, the commission has also said that all the recurring expenses will be the state governments’ responsibility.
Recurring expenses would be about 20 per cent of the total plan allocation for RTE implementation.
There is also some opposition from the HRD ministry, which says Rs 1,42,000 crore is not enough to implement the RTE law.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had said that fewer funds will cause difficulties in implementing the law.