New Delhi:States will be financially rewarded for improving their school education system from the current financial year, according to Union government plans.

The ministry will kick-start the performance-based funding for key education schemes—from primary to senior secondary level—with the newly launched Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which clubs key schemes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and teacher training.

“We are giving a lot of freedom to states through this new scheme. We want to see better outcomes and some areas like teacher deployment need reform" for an improvement in outcome, said human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar.

Of the total funding that the central government provides to states for key school schemes, between 15% and 20% will be performance based and decided on the basis of measures such as teaching-learning outcome and rationalization in teacher deployment.

This will work as an incentive to push states to perform better, according to officials in the HRD ministry.

“While overall, Indian schools have enough teachers, because of lack of rationalization in deployment, we talk about a 30-40% vacancy or absenteeism. We have told states that instead of concentrating teachers in cities they should deploy them where there is vacancy. One may call it a push towards rural posting but actually teacher deployment is a big issue and it needs quick rationalization," said a senior official in the ministry, on condition of anonymity.

The overall teacher-student ratio is 1:27 against a target of 1:30 under the Right to Education Act, said the official quoted above. “That’s why we are pushing states to take more money but rationalize teacher deployment," he said.

The central government will spend Rs34,000 crore in 2018-19 for the education schemes clubbed under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, Javadekar said. The outlay will rise to Rs41,000 crore next year, he said.

The additional expenditure planned for next year will give the centre greater scope to offer more funding to states who show better outcomes.

The quality of school education has been a constant problem for India and several studies over the years have shown that school students are not learning the basics, which in turn is affecting the country’s human resource competitiveness.

The performance of state-run Kendriya Vidyalayas (central schools) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) is far better than any category of private schools, said the ministry official quoted above. “Going by that experience, other government schools run by states or municipalities can be improved, provided there is a concerted effort," the official added.

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