The human resource development ministry is pitching for a near 100 per cent hike in higher education funding under the 2011-12 union budget to meet a slew of promises it is running out of time to implement.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal has asked finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to increase budgetary allocation for the higher education department from Rs. 16,690 crore in 2010-11 to over Rs. 30,000 crore in 2011-12, top government sources have told HT. If accepted, the hike would be the largest ever for higher education.
Sibal has already raised the demands of the ministry – which heads India’s education policy and implementation – with Mukherjee in two pre-Budget meetings, the sources said. The Budget session of Parliament starts next month.
The higher education hike is critical for the government to meet a number of commitments made by the government under the XIth Five Year Plan that remain on paper. The 2011-12 financial year will be the last under the XIth Plan, which ends in 2012.
“There are several key plans and promises we have made over the past five years, including some clearly spelt out in the XIth Plan document, which are yet to see the light of day,’ a senior government official said.
These unfulfilled promises include plans to start 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and more recent promises like the National Education Finance Corporation (NEFC). The NEFC is expected to provide easy loans and bank guarantees for students seeking higher education loans, and also provide easy loans for new institutions.
Other unfulfilled promises include a plan to set up 50 centres for cutting edge research in science – outlined in the XIth Plan document back in 2007. A proposal to incentivise state governments that set up new higher educational institutions, also spelt out in the XIth Plan document is yet to obtain Cabinet approval. A senior official said this project alone would require close to Rs. 900 crore.
The HRD ministry is also expecting a significant jump in the school education budget – principally for the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act that guarantees schooling for all children between 6 and 14.
The ministry is seeking a budget of Rs. 34,000 crore for just the implementation of the RTE Act under the 2011-12 budget, as opposed to Rs. 33,214 crore in 2010-11 for all school education and adult literacy programmes.