Bihar’s efforts to scale up its primary education infrastructure has suffered a major blow with the Centre releasing just 27% of the state’s share of funds for implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the fiscal that ended on Saturday.
SSA is the flagship project of the Centre to universalise elementary education in the country. “Out of the Centre’s contributory share of Rs 7,040 crore, Bihar has got just Rs 1,900 crore, including the last tranche of Rs180 crore on Saturday,” said state education minister PK Shahi.
The “abysmally low funding” will affect the state’s target of constructing 1.5 lakh classrooms and 15,000 new schools, officials of the state education department said.
“We may find it difficult even to pay salaries. We are mobilising the state’s own resources to avoid such a situation. But expansion work has suffered in big way,” Shahi said.
The minister said the problem stemmed from the way the planning commission truncated the ministry of human resources development’s budget outlay for SSA — out of the proposed Rs 38,000 crore for the scheme, just Rs 21,000 crore was released. Under the circumstances, bigger states like UPand Bihar have been the biggest losers.
The other bad news is that the SSA outlay for 2012-13 is also not likely to be encouraging and may hover around Rs 25,000 crore for the entire country.
“It is strange that the Centre expects states to implement the Right to Education Act effectively and honestly without providing them the requisite resources,” Shahi said.
“Salary disbursal is priority and hostels for the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya residential schools comes next. Installation of hand pumps and construction of toilets are also important,” said Rajesh Bhushan, state project director, SSA.