New Delhi, March 16: India, which accounts for 61 per cent of the world’s illiterate adults along with Bangladesh and Pakistan, will not be able to substantially bring down the rate for another 10 years unless “tremendous efforts in education and economic reforms” are made, a Unesco report has said.
Quoting this, Eduardo Faleiro, Congress MP and convener of the parliamentary forum on education, an initiative taken by some parliamentarians, said on Saturday: “The Centre is giving no priority to this sector as is evident from the meagre budgetary allocations to education in this budget. The increase of approximately Rs 4 crore for the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, a programme for universalisation of elementary education, is fictitious.”
This year’s budget has hiked the allocation to the scheme from Rs 1,512 crore to Rs 1,951.25 crore.
Faleiro alleged that even this marginal hike has been done at the cost of other programmes — by cancelling important educational schemes such as Operation Blackboard and the Central plan assistance for Northeastern areas.
The human resources development ministry, however, maintained that all existing schemes under primary education, including Operation Blackboard, have been clubbed together under the elementary education scheme and that is the reason why no separate allocations have been made.
The forum, floated at Faleiro’s initiative to bring into focus “saffronisation” of education, also looks after other aspects of education, particularly the government’s lack of priority to a sector starved of funds.
The forum’s demand for additional funds is likely to find support with human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, who is displeased that the finance ministry has ignored his demand for more funds for the educational sector.
It is, however, reported that the minister knocked on the doors of the Prime Minister with his complaint and was given a sympathetic hearing.
India invests 3.6 per cent of its gross domestic product in education against its commitment to put in 6 per cent.
“The government, however, does not want to strengthen this sector and would much rather be in the dismal ranks of its neighbours than invest more in education,” said Faleiro.
The Tapas Majumdar Committee, appointed by the Centre in 1999, assessed an additional annual requirement of Rs 13,700 crore for universalisation of elementary education.
“In its financial memorandum of the 93rd amendment Bill making education a fundamental right, the government scaled down this amount to Rs 9,008 crore. It never explained on what basis it has done so,” Faleiro added.