House panel backs Arjun on SSA funding
The HRD minister can now fight against his own Govt's decision to lower the Centre’s share in Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.india Updated: Apr 28, 2007 03:22 IST
HRD Minister Arjun Singh has now the Parliament’s power to fight against his own government’s decision to lower the Centre’s share in Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) from 75 per cent to 50 per cent.
The Public Accounts Committee headed by Vijay Kumar Malhotra of BJP on Friday went all out in the support of Singh saying modifying the funding pattern to 50:50 may "impair the programme that is already operating behind schedule." Under SSA, the government was to ensure eight years of elementary education to all children by 2010 but now the deadline has been revised to 2012 with many states not meeting the targets.
Meeting even the revised deadline may be difficult if the government insisted with 50: 50 funding pattern, the committee observed. "Inspite of 75:25 funding pattern many states were lagging behind in achieving the targets," it said, pointing that the states lagging behind are populous and not very financially sound to meet the additional burden.
The ministry informed the committee that the state governments would require Rs 7,500 crore more for the additional burden - a daunting task for most states. The committee felt the states might not be able to meet the matching share, preventing the centre from releasing further instalments. "Such a situation is bound to choke the scheme with serious repercussions," the committee stated.
In the committee, the ministry put a view quite contrary to that of the government. The ministry said the existing 75:25 funding ratio can be sustained with the funds available from the non-lapsable Prambhik Siksha Kosh, budgetary support and external funding.
However, the Planning Commission and Finance Ministry had stated that continuing with existing funding pattern will jeopardise the efforts to strengthen secondary education and states can provide additional funds from the Rs 47,000 crore surplus funds, they have.
Making a strong plea for reverting to 75:25 funding scheme, the committee said, the attainment of the goal of universal elementary education depends squarely on the populous but educationally backward states to achieve the targets stipulated under SSA.
"The government should not allow SSA to suffer on account of shortage of funds," the committee stated, while pointing out several lacunas in the present modules of the scheme.