Only 12% of schools RTE compliant: Whither 6% budgetary allocation for education? -Ambarish Rai
Despite Indian state’s commitment of 6% GDP on education, the Finance Minister completely ignored right to education for children and strengthening implementation of RTE Act which makes education a fundamental right in her budget speech. The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, which is a collective of different stakeholders in education, condemns this neglect of a legal entitlement, which is unconstitutional and demand for overall increase in the budget to ensure improvement in learning outcomes and overall enhancement of quality education.
The mention of a New Education Policy (NEP) is important; however, without financial commitment it will fail to plug the widening inequalities in school education which was aimed at removing pervasive lack of equality and quality in education through the normative framework adopted by the RTE Act.
This is incongruent with international frameworks and guiding principles on education. However without strong commitment of the state it is near impossible to achieve quality education for all children. Also, without clearcut financial provisions how the extension of RTE Act from pre-primary to secondary education can be realised.
Instead of an incremental approach, massive additional investments are, needed to ensure that education delivered meets the basic prerequisites of quality. Investment in online courses (SWAYAM portal), sports education through ‘Khelo India scheme’ etc., will only actualize if India is able to achieve universalisation of quality education. Without universalisation of education, planning for higher education to bring foreign student into Indian universities through ‘Study in India’ scheme is like building castles in the air.
India is long committed to spending 6% GDP on education. This was a recommendation of the Kothari Commission, formed part of both the UPA and the BJP election manifestoes and part of India’s EFA commitments internationally. However, India’s spending continues to fall short.
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