Big money in edu scheme, little change in schools

While the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) infrastructure budget increased by 137 per cent between 2009-10 and 2011-12, there was only marginal progress on the norms identified under the Right to Education Act (RTE). The annual PAISA report released today shows that nearly three years after the Act came into effect, the RTE indicators remain largely unchanged.

The PAISA project is a collaborative effort of the Accountability Initiative of the Delhi-based independent policy think tank Centre for Policy Research and ASER Centre, aimed at improving transparency and accountability in public expenditure management for social sector programmes.

PAISA has been bringing out annual reports since 2009. SSA is the implementing vehicle for RTE that promises free and compulsory education for all children from ages 6 to 14.

"Proportion of schools with shortfall in teachers, classrooms, drinking water facilities, kitchen/ shed, playground, complete boundary wall, separate room for headmaster has remained more or less unchanged between 2010 and 2011," says the report.

While most states have met the access norm of a primary school within 1 km of a habitation, 60 per cent schools in Orissa, Karnataka and Jharkhand do not have a functional toilet. Forty eight per cent primary schools have a pupil-teacher ratio greater than the mandated 30:1.

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Vinod Rai, who released the report, said that in light of PAISA findings, it seemed to be time to audit SSA. The CAG last audited SSA five years ago.

According to the report, India's SSA budget increased from Rs 26,169 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 42,926 crore the next year, and to Rs 55,746 crore in 2011-12.

The per-child allocation during the same years went from Rs 2,004 to Rs 3,287 to Rs 4,269.

Allocation to teachers and school infrastructure made up 80 per cent of overall allocations in 2011-12. Grants receipts to schools improved from 77 per cent in 2008-09 to 84 per cent in 2009-10, but fell to 82 per cent in 2010-11.

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