India's elementary education budget has raised from Rs 68,853 crore to Rs 147,059 crore this fiscal which is more than doubled since 2007-08. But, the number of Standard-III students who could read a Standard-I textbook has collapsed from just under 50 per cent five years ago, to some 30 per cent in 2012. Then, Is it worth spending?
Well, this question is in a mist for many of us. But, the Accountability Initiative's national school-level PAISA survey, part of the Annual Survey of Education (ASER) - Rural, has come with a great report based on this issue. It suggests that, it is a massively centralised, top-down delivery system, which coupled with a lack of capacity across the board, has ensured a drastic reduction in learning outcomes.
The survey, had covered 14,591 schools, and broadly focused on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the government's main instrument for implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The SSA allocation, which stood at Rs 67,307 crore in 2012-13, itself, is comprised of the school maintenance grant (SMG), the school development grant or school grant (SDG) and the teaching-learning material (TLM) grant.
The report further stated that about 43 per of the total SSA allocation is for teachers, including salaries, training and teaching inputs. Another 35 per cent goes to school infrastructure and 12 per cent is utilized for children, including entitlements and remedial teaching.
"All critical teacher and infrastructure-related decisions are taken by the education bureaucracy, which is managed and controlled by the state government. Funds for infrastructure development are often channelled to schools; however, key decisions related to sanctions and procurement are taken by the district administration," It adds.
Efficiently, it is the school grants, at Rs 1,377 crore in 2012-13, only about two per cent of the SSA corpus, that remains the only fund over which school management committees can exercise some expenditure control.
Well, this is not the only issue that is effecting India's Education Sector. Then, What are the other issues? The survey has also highlighted about the other issues like grants for schools and colleges, teachers, facilities and more.
The various grants under the SSA don't reach all schools - and not on time, either. In 2011-12, the report reveals, 87 per cent of the schools surveyed reported receiving the SMG, a spot higher than 84 per cent in the preceding year. Similarly, the TLM was delivered to 89 per cent schools and the SDG to 79 per cent in 2011-12, a little more than 85 per cent and 77 per cent respectively in 2010-11. Though there remain variations in grant receipts across states, the situation nationwide seems to be improving.
Between April 2011 and November 2012, 67 per cent schools white-washed their walls and 70 per cent used some of their money to fund school events. 90 per cent schools purchased chalks/ dusters and registers. In contrast, only 36 per cent schools repaired toilets during the same period, while less than half repaired drinking water facilities.
Although SSA funding for teachers and school infrastructure has jumped by over 60 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12, there has been no major improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR): 46 per cent schools have a PTR greater than 30, the ratio mandated by the RTE.
Spending much and not worth towards the needful is totally an insane matter. We in India teach children about Money Management, but today, India has a law that makes access to education a fundamental right. But, it is not turning out into a greater learning experience for many of the youngsters.