The Ministry of Finance started its pre-budget consultation for the upcoming 2018-19 budget which will probably be published by February 2018.
Why is this time crucial for those who care about the fundamental Right to Education, is something I look at exploring in this piece.
Picture this: You are a teacher in a rural governmental upper-primary school in Bihar. Your class consists of 100 students of class 6. The government will provide you ₹500 Rupees for teaching-learning materials (TLM) per year. That is ₹5 per child per year. What will you do with these ₹5?
This rhetorical question illustrates the alarming state of the government education system in our country. While the middle class buys half a litre of water for ₹60, a child in a governmental school is worth ₹5 for the development of the teaching-learning materials in a whole year. Something is awkwardly wrong here. This is structural violence.
The current time is extremely crucial. The Ministry of Finance is now about to fix the budget for the next financial year. The past shows that the demands for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and RTE have got little attention in the budget allocation process. A paper by PRS Legislative Research of the Institute of Policy Research Studies states:
It has been observed that there exists a wide gap between demand and actual allocation for the SSA and RTE. For example, the BE for 2016-17 was ₹22,500 crore as against the Department’s request for ₹55,000 crore. Further, Standing Committees have recommended increased funding for the SSA and sufficient allocations for states requiring additional resources.
This means that the Department for School Education and Literacy demanded ₹55,000 crore to implement the fundamental Right to Education but got only half of what it needed.
The result of this technical process is ill-equipped schools, with less than 10% of the schools fulfilling even the minimum RTE norms and a dysfunctional system that ends up with a ₹5 coin for a whole year to make learning interesting. One does not have to be a genius to realize that this cannot work.
The Kothari Commission clearly stated that 6% of GDP is required for education. Many parties also added this number to their manifestos.
It’s time now for the public to demand the media to put attention on this issue. We support the call by the RTE Forum: Right to Education Forum said that the urgent investments in equitable quality education is needed now and the first step towards that would be through ensuring that all schools in India adhere to standards laid down under the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
Do you know a journalist? Let them know you care and ask them to interview people in the Ministry for Human Resource Development in the Department for School Education & Literacy, teachers, students, BEOs & DEOs to let them explain why this money is needed.
Put governmental schools into the spotlight now!