The total budgetary spending on school education in the country has remained stagnant at 2.7 per cent of GDP since the last four financial years, a recent study said. “Of the 2.68 per cent of GDP in 2015-16, elementary education accounted for 1.55 per cent and secondary education was allocated 0.9 per cent of GDP with the remaining being spent on school-education as a whole,” it said.
The study was conducted by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and CRY, which looks at the overall scenario of budgetary spending (including central and states’ funds) on education from classes I to XII.
It also examined the composition of school budgets of 10 states — Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
The study shows poorer and educationally under-performing states have accorded higher priority to school-education than the better performing states in the post-RTE Act phase.
“India’s budgetary spending on education is inadequate not just because it falls short of the benchmark recommended by the Kothari Commission, but also due to paucity of funds in almost all important areas of public provisioning of school education,” Subrat Das, Director of CBGA said.
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According to the study, the ‘per child’ budgetary spending in states varied from Rs 8,526 per annum (in Bihar) to Rs 18,035 per annum (in Maharashtra) in 2015-16, while the ‘per student’ budgetary spending varied from Rs 9,583 (in Bihar) to Rs 28,630 (in Maharashtra) in 2014-15.
Protiva Kundu of CBGA, the lead author of the study, said teachers’ salary constitute the largest share of school education budget in all states (ranging between 52 per cent to 80 per cent).
States like Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, which have large numbers of vacancies for teachers, are spending less than 60 per cent of their school education budget on teachers’ salary, Kundu said.
Teachers’ salary is not the reason for under-funding in other important areas. Rather, it is the overall deficiency of budgetary resources for school education in most of the states that is at the root of the problem, the study reveals.
“The overall deficiency in public financing of school education is not only responsible for the gaps in coverage and quality of education through government schools, it is also a major factor underlying the weak linkages between budget outlays and educational outcomes in poorer states,” Komal Ganotra of CRY (Child Rights and You) said.
“Private schools too are an important beneficiary of government financing for school education. The study shows how significant proportions of budgetary spending on school education are channelised towards government-aided and unaided private schools,” she said.