Expressing concern over the decline in state funding in social sector, including education, in last two years, Vice President M Hamid Ansari today pitched for enhanced allocation for key welfare schemes so that falling incomes of parents do not impact their children’s education.
Noting that public services like school education were key to nurturing participatory growth, he said despite the well documented relation between spending on school education and the growth of nation, financing of education the country ‘remains inadequate’.
“Total public expenditure for education, at less than 3.5 per cent of GDP, is presently well below the six per cent commitment made in various National Education Policies,” he said inaugurating the fourth phase of the Vidyadhanam project, piloted by Prof K V Thomas Vidyadhanam Trust here.
He said at 52 per cent, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) received more than half the money under school education allocation in the latest budget, but over the last five years, funding for it has declined by six per cent, from Rs 23,873 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 22,500 crore for 2016-17.
Ansari said while school education was primarily the responsibility of states, the central government directly finances 60 per cent through programmes such as the SSA.
As many as 66 per cent of the country’s primary school students attend government schools or government-aided schools, he said.
“In this backdrop, the decline in state funding in the key social sector programmes, including education, is also a particular concern.”
“The money allocated for key centrally sponsored social schemes–Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Health Mission–declined by about 5 per cent, 8 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, over the last two years,” the Vice President said.
He said in addition to increasing the government investments in education, “it is also essential to maintain the funding levels of other social welfare schemes, especially those operating in the rural sector-to ensure that falling incomes of parents do not impact the educational prospects of in-school children.”
Ansari said the Vidyadhanam project, launched by Lok Sabha member K V Thomas in his constituency Ernakulam, is a unique project.
“It not only provides financial incentive and scholarship to bright students from Government and aided schools, but also encourages cultivation of life skills, such as thrift and financial inclusion,” he said.