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Financial fix: In new education scheme, Punjab’s allocation slashed

To get Rs 533 crore, which is 40% less than previous years; second lowest among major states under Modi govt’s Samagra Shiksha Scheme

punjab Updated: May 17, 2018 09:22 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
education scheme,Punjab,Punjab government
The scheme, which means tighter norms for teacher salary, new infrastructure, research and teacher training institutes in the state, is not good news for a debt-ridden Punjab with severe financial constraints.(HT File )

In a setback to the Punjab government, the Centre has slashed fund allocation for the state to Rs 533 crore for the financial year 2018-19 under the new, integrated scheme for education, Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. This is 40% less than what the state was getting in recent years under three schemes that have now been clubbed.

Allocation under the new programme, which replaces Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and the Scheme of Restructuring and Reorganisation of Teacher Education (STE) from this year, was conveyed by the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry to the school education department of Punjab about 10 days ago. Both SSA and RMSA, in operation for about 15 years, were aimed at elementary and secondary levels, while the new scheme also covers senior secondary.

It is funded jointly by the Centre and the state on 60:40 basis. The allocation is Centre’s 60% share and the state government will have to now submit at least Rs 890-crore project plan, along with a commitment to release its 40% share, to avail this.

This allocation and new norms have left officials stunned. “Though central share varied from year to year, it was about Rs 900 crore under SSA, RMSA and STE in last two-three years. Impact is being studied,” an officer of the state department said, requesting anonymity.

Constrained already

The scheme, which means tighter norms for teacher salary, new infrastructure, research and teacher training institutes in the state, is not good news for a debt-ridden Punjab with severe financial constraints. Budgeted expenditure on education in Punjab is less than 3% of gross state domestic product (GSDP), below all-India figure of of 4% of GDP. Punjab is among states where budgeted spending on education as percentage of GSDP has been among the lowest in the country.

In all, the ministry has allocated Rs 25,383 crore as central share for 18 major states having 60:40 fund sharing. Both neighbouring Haryana and Himachal Pradesh will get more money than Punjab as the central share. While Haryana will get Rs 728 crore, Himachal, where the fund-sharing ratio is 90:10 on account of its being a hilly state, has been allocated Rs 627 crore.

Final allocation will be decided by the project approval board (PAB) in the next six weeks.

Performance link

The Union ministry said this “indicative allocation” has been arrived on the basis of total central releases under the three schemes in 2017-18 and the performance. Performance-linked criteria include National Achievement Survey (NAS) scores in Classes 3, 5 and 8; separate cadres for headmasters; a teacher transfer policy for a minimum tenure in rural areas; percentage of schools covered under Shala Siddhi (school evaluation programme); elementary government schools with adverse pupil-teacher ratio (PTR); gender parity index; and gross enrolment ratio, reads a letter sent by joint secretary, school education, MHRD, to the state government.

The state is likely to take up the matter during the meeting of the project approval board. “There have been issues in availing central share in the past due to delay or non-release of state’s share. This has affected indicative allocation,” said the state official.

Earlier, the PAB meetings were scheduled in January and February for approval of budget proposals of the state governments for the financial year 2018-19; but were deferred due to merger of the three schemes.

CM for 5% diversion from other depts

CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday mooted a proposal to cut the budget of all other departments by 5% each, in order to mop up additional revenue for education, which he described as critical for the state’s development and progress. He said at a conclave hosted by Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal TV.

The initiative, said the CM, would help raise an additional Rs 887 crore for education, whose budgetary allocation currently stands at 14% of outlay at Rs 2,916 crore. Additional budget will take it to 21% of the outlay.

First Published: May 17, 2018 09:22 IST