Huge allocations sans progress

No optimal utilisation of funds despite Rs 8,332 cr earmarked for education in 09-10

A more recent survey also conducted by ASER in October 2009 revealed that 51.9 per cent of primary schools in the State do not have usable toilets and a further 11.5 per cent do not even have the infrastructure.
Yet a substantial portion of the State budgetary allocation goes to education, a priority sector, year after year.

A whopping Rs 8,332 crore was earmarked for the sector in 2009-10. Lack of optimal utilisation of funds and proper planning is the simple answer for the sorry state of affairs.
An insider in the Education Department illustrates an example to substantiate the point. “Presently, under universalisation of education, hundreds of new schools are being constructed despite the fact that many schools have hardly any students. This ends in two-room schools that lack basic facilities. More teachers will have to be recruited, which means more spending. For the same budgetary grants, we can go for fewer but bigger schools with hostel facility and proper infrastructure.” 

Major headache
Another major headache is the growing salary bill. Statistics speak: Of the Rs 8,147 crore earmarked for education sector in 2008-09 budget, Rs 6,515 crore went for paying salaries, pension and basic maintenance (non-plan expenditure). Only Rs 1,632 crore could be utilised for infrastructure development and improvement. The budget estimates for 2009-10 were no different (see box).

The slump in resource mobilisation besides the huge salary bill, will not permit Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, who also holds the Finance portfolio, to announce any new schemes for the education sector in the forthcoming budget, sources said.
The Government, however, will be continuing with its scheme of providing free bicycles to high school students. So far, more than seven lakh students have been provided with bicycles. ‘Akshara Dasoha’, the mid-day meal scheme for 70 lakh children in 55,000 schools across the State will also be continued.

The total grants for the mid-day scheme exceeds Rs 450 crore, but a substantial portion is borne by the Centre.

Meagre grants
With State’s focus being primary and secondary education, the grants provided to higher education have always been meagre.

The State government’s decision to revise the salaries of university and college teachers along the lines of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations will shoot up the wage bill from the present Rs 590 crore to Rs 815 crore per annum.
Quality factor is yet to make an entry in the budget and as things stand, this year’s budget will be no exception.
DH News Service

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