Simantini Dhuru, director of Avehi Abacus has written this commentary on the 2018-19 budget on behalf of Jangnayachya Hakkache Andolan, a Maharashtra state level alliance of people’s movements and trade unions.
Education in Maharashtra (Commentary on 2018-2019 Budget)
It is indeed unfortunate that as the new State budget is unveiled every year we must begin with the reminder that education is a fundamental right of children in India and universally accepted as the investment a society makes for its well-being.
Having said this, the Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 does nothing to honour the Constitutional directives and the International treaties it is committed to for the rights of children and adolescents. The RTE 2009 caters only to the age-group of only 6 to 14 and is thus meaningless because the upward and downward linkages to quality education are absent for majority of children. (RTE 2009 leaves the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECCE/ Pre-Primary) and Secondary and Higher Secondary education outside its purview. The provision positive discrimination/ ‘reservations’ at later stages in life are rendered meaningless as majority of the disadvantaged are denied access to health, pre-primary education, quality elementary education and lack access to Secondary education.) The gaps left by the government have been taken-over by the commercialised private sector gradually over-shadowing it.
Most importantly; education should be seen as a continuum from Pre-primary to Higher education. Slicing it into separate segments for different sections of society as per their paying capacity is unjust. Without firm basis in early education quality school education is not possible and mere Elementary education without a possibility of reaching Higher Education is meaningless in itself as it neither helps economic progress nor is epistemologically empowering.
Post-Budget Education Budget Summary
|2016-17 Actual||2017-18 BE||2017-18 RE||2018-19 BE|
|BE/RE of Dept ( Allocation)||39023.82||48844.571||46182.852||51565.315|
|BE/RE as % of Total State Budget||15.92581468||17.213764||15.0893311||15.2191171|
|BE/RE as % of GSDP||1.728988335||1.9565181||1.84990024||1.84419632|
|Actual Expenditure as a % of BE||89.44%||63.05%||70.9%|
|% Unspent||11.66||36.95%||29.59% *|
- Pre-Primary education addressed by Section 11 of the RTE Act 2009 is not binding on the State and thus Maharashtra has neglected this crucial stage of development and learning of its youngest citizens. The severe budgetary cuts and under spending in Women and Child Development Department since last two years in particular clearly indicate that children’s lives and development do not matter in Maharsahtra. (DISE data 2016-2017 shows that there were only 12.5% Pre-Primary schools, in 2015-2016 there were 14.1% Pre-Primary schools.)
- In 2018-19 the Budget Estimate (BE) has increased over last year’s BE by 5.57%, but BE as a percent of total state budget has decreased to 15.21% from 17.21% between 2017-18 BE and 2018-19BE. The BE as percent of GSDP has also dropped to 1.84% in 2018-19 from 1.95% between 2017-18. The SSA expenditure has increased in the last year (by 2319 crores about 8.88% increase) and same goes for Mid-Day Meal (MDM) by (393 crores about 7.05 % increase) Scheme and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha(RMSA) (by 84.83 crores about 129.27 % increase ). The large share given to RMSA needs to analysed further. Maharashtra lags severely behind providing Secondary schools and the State through its (lapsed) commitments for RMSA is attempting to address the backlog as in last few years majority of the RMSA funds sanctioned by Centre were returned. But the key issue is that SSA is the vehicle for delivery of the RTE providing elementary education (Std. I to VIII). If elementary education is not given sufficient priority; increasing RMSA share will only benefit those who have the fortune to have had access to quality elementary education as allocations of RMSA reveal. The total provision for Government Secondary schools and Zilla Parishad Secondary schools put together is 83,78,606 whereas the allocation for Private Secondary schools and Junior colleges is 19330,0286. Thus out of the total allocations to Secondary schools the combined share of Government and Zilla Parishads is mere 4.03% and the non-government schools get a whopping 95.96%.
- As is obvious from the above Privatisation gains as both access and quality of government Elementary schools are neglected. The latest Economic Survey of the state shows that more than half the children enrolled in primary schools do not reach std. X. (TOI, 11th March,2018). DISE data (2016-2017) shows that number of government schools has decreased from 67,294 in 2015-2016 to 66,946 and Private schools have increased from 30,383 in 2015-2016 to 37,360 in 2016-17. Enrolment of Students in government schools has also decreased from 5,949,222 in 2015-2016 to 5, 718, 528 in 2016-2017 and enrolment in Private schools has increased from 10,019,040 in 2015-2016 to 10,182.972 in 2016-201. The main reason behind this is lack of access to Secondary education. The Secondary School sector where the RMSA programme appears has only 1646 (7%) government Schools (Aided schools: 14830 (63.08%) Private Schools: 6323 (29.49%).
- Another worrying trend that is consistently seen since last 3/4 years is gross under spending. Thus allocating marginally more resources and leaving them unutilised essentially points to the phenomenon of lack of priority for education. In last fiscal i.e. 2017-2018 year; 29.59% of the budget remained unused. In education, majority of budget is utilised towards salaries; thus allocation for new schools, special efforts to improve quality of education, retention and learning of children, teacher development, community outreach, educational research and innovation, education of disabled children (CWSN) takes back seat.
Thus while percent of the budgets for SSA and RMSA have increased between2015-16 and 2017-18 gross under spending has marked the sectors. 58% of the central share of SSA was left unspent and 68.8% of the RMSA budget remained unspent.
- Right to Education for children between 6 to 14 years (Std. I to VIII) is recognised as the fundamental right and thus the State is duty-bound to provide for it and raise required resources whatever be the costs.
- Section 11 of the Right to Education Act that directs the State and Local Self-Government bodies to address Pre-Primary Education must be implemented in immediately universal manner. Each school must have a pre-primary section attached to it.
- To ensure delivery of right to education is to invest sufficient resources to make it publically funded from Pre-Primary to Std. XII (3 to 18 years). Maharashtra should spend as much as the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) per student. Current estimates show that only Rs 28,630 is spent per student by the State whereas Rs 32263 is spent by KV. A minimum Rs. 12,101.685 crore (additional) would be required to ensure Kendriya Vidyalaya standard for every student enrolled in Maharashtra.
- The State must bring a White paper on the school merger of more than 1300+ schools and reveal the state of education of SC, STs, and girls impacted by school closure/merger.
- By providing schools from pre-primary to Std. XII with quality infrastructure, (hostels, free transport where applicable), maintain TPR at school level as per RTE 2009 norms rather than aggregate at higher administrative levels, support teacher development, extra-curricular activities/sports and maintain overall standards at least similar to the KVs.