Recently, the finance minister spoke of the need to focus on retention and quality of learning, while announcing a nearly 23% bigger budget of Rs13,100 crore for his government’s flagship programme—the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The minister had expressed similar concerns in 2007 when he announced an almost three times higher provision for improving teachers’ training to Rs450 crore. But it is only too well known that the government’s role in providing good quality elementary education is restricted to rhetorical speeches and reams of paper.
Just consider the data on SSA teacher training provided in Rajya Sabha on Monday. Out of 35 states/UTs, 18 had a target of ‘0’ for all three years up till 2007! A majority of the rest show dismal outcomes. Let’s admit governments need to move away from the provision of education. Else all that budgeted money could well go waste.