Can the system fight the deficiency of trained teachers and high drop-out rate with just Rs 1,000 crore allocated in the Budget?
The Union Budget FY17 has made a provision for setting up of a Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), with an initial capital base of Rs 1,000 crore. However, it is expected that HEFA will leverage additional funds from the market, work to create infrastructure in India’s top institutions like the IITs, and also supplement the funds with donations from the corporate sector under CSR.
However, this agency is not meant for funding current expenditure. Therefore, the salaries of teachers and the expenditure on development of training material will have to be funded from other sources. Better facilities in the classroom and for sports and extracurricular activities can be created from this category.
In addition, for empowering higher educational institutions to becoming world-class, there is a separate provision for 10 public and 10 private institutions, which will be selected in due course of time. There is no specific provision in the Budget to deal with the acute shortage of teachers or upgrading the skills of existing teachers. It can be assumed that this will be met through the regular non-planned grants given to public institutions. However, there is no clarity about the amounts involved towards this additional expenditure.
To fight the deficiency of teachers, we require a much higher allocation for non-plan expenditure to be incurred by public schools and colleges. We require funding at multiple levels since India is a country of heterogeneous mass living in urban and suburban areas, with 70% living in rural India.
For proper planning on the part of the government, what is required is a database on the existing strength of teachers in various institutions and identification of faculty and teacher shortage. It is also necessary to further classify the requirement of additional teaching staff by specialisation and category. For instance, it is estimated that the shortage of teaching staff is 40%, i.e. if there are 60 teachers against a requirement of 100, the teaching g strength has to go up by two-thirds. Which would imply 70% increase in non-plan grant. Since an increase of this magnitude cannot be implemented in a single Budget, what is required is a perspective plan to be implemented over the next 4 or 5 Budgets.
In this context, the current budgetary provision can be considered only as the first step in that direction.
By Manaswini Acharya
The author is professor of Marketing and dean, Placements & Corporate Relations, IMI, New Delhi