New Delhi: The Union government wants to increase the money it plans to spend on implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, while putting up a larger proportion of the funds for programmes under it to counter complaints by states that they are strapped for cash.
The government proposes to step up spending by Rs30,000 crore to Rs2 trillion, according to human resource development (HRD) ministry officials familiar with the development. The funding pattern will be changed to 65:35, with the Centre putting in 65%, from the earlier 55:45 ratio, as per proposals drawn up by the ministry.
Promise of education: Children at a government school in Lucknow. Priyanka Parashar/Mint
The Act promises compulsory education to all children up to class VIII, and is one of the key policies of the United Progressive Alliance government.
The proposals are likely to be sent to the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC).
“Looking at the historic Act and its long-term implication on the education scenario in the country, we are not against taking a bigger responsibility in relation to RTE expenditure,” said a ministry official on condition of anonymity.
The government had previously estimated that Rs1.7 trillion would be spent over five years for the successful implementation of the Act.
Another ministry official confirmed the development and added that the effort was aimed at addressing the financial concerns of states and at helping with the smooth implementation of the Act, which came into force on 1 April.
The officials said the proposals would be circulated among the ministries concerned and depending on inputs, “we will put a strong case” to EFC.
If EFC accepts the proposals in their entirety, then the Union government will bear an expenditure of at least Rs1.3 trillion over a period of five years.
Several states such as Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh have demanded that the Centre foot a larger share of the RTE bill as they are facing a financial crunch. Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik had met HRD minister Kapil Sibal early this month and asked that the Centre bear 90% of the expenditure for at least two fiscal years.
The education ministers of UP and Bihar will be coming to Delhi later this week, an HRD ministry official said.
“They’ll meet the minister on RTE and are expected to present their argument for a better deal,” he said. “They have a wish list. We are trying to increase the Central share, but the states too have a responsibility.”
Currently, 220 million children are in schools across India, while at least 8.1 million children of school-going age are excluded from the system, HRD ministry data shows.