New Delhi: Ever since the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched in 2001, the Central government’s expenditure on primary education has increased significantly. With the passage of the Right to Education Act in August of last year, this trend will continue and numbers are expected to shoot up.
“We are looking at a huge expenditure – at least a doubling or trebling of the current funding,” says Anit Mukherjee, a fellow at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “The highest estimate I have seen is a CABE Committee Report that says (Rs)70,000 crores per year or 4.36 lakh crore over 6 yrs for the implementation of the Right to Education Act.”
With primary education being the focal point for the upcoming budget, secondary education is likely to take a backseat. “With the RTE, I don’t think the government is in any shape to spend too money on secondary education,” says Mukherjee. A large concern is that the batch of children coming out of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the government’s flagship primary school programme, who are at the age to enroll in secondary school may be unable to do so.
One suggestion Mukherjee makes is that India could adopt an education model from Germany or Japan, where students who have completed elementary school can either continue along a general stream or opt for a technical stream. “This would take the pressure off having to send every child to secondary school,” says Mukherjee. “In India, the way things are current structured, people have to complete higher education before they can choose to branch out.”