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Education fund: No change in Centre's stand

May 31, 2007 11:23 IST

With the Planning Commission not keen on reverting back to the Centre-state funding pattern of 75:25 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the states might have to shell out 50 per cent of funds under the government's flagship education programme from this financial year, marking the beginning of the Eleventh Plan period.

"I think the states are provided with enough funds and they are also in a position to take up 50:50 pattern from this year," Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told Business Standard at a conference on empowerment through education.

Though there is a demand from the states for continuance of the 75:25 funding pattern under the SSA, at present, the Plan panel is not considering the pattern change, Ahluwalia said.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development, in support of the states' demand, had earlier circulated a Cabinet note and made presentations before the Plan panel and the PM in this regard.

The ministry even recorded its concerns before a Parliamentary panel that with the pattern change, educational reforms triggered through the SSA may be hit.

Ministry calculations show that under the 75:25 pattern, the burden on the Centre to meet all the requirements of school infrastructure and quality norms for next three years would be Rs 53,000 crore (Rs 530 billion), while under the 50:50 pattern, it would be Rs 35,366 crore (Rs 353.66 billion), "which asks for an additional Rs 17,600 crore (Rs 176 billion) only".

"But if the Centre has to take this additional burden at the elementary level, the only other way would be to cut the resources for the secondary education," Ahluwalia said.

Meanwhile, the ministry has disbursed the first instalments under the SSA to the states, under the 50:50 pattern. "We have not received any communication regarding the revert back in funding pattern. So, we have released the first instalments to the states as per our budget allocation, in the 50:50 pattern," ministry officials told Business Standard.

"But this is only an ad-hoc arrangement to continue the SSA momentum. We are awaiting a final decision," they maintained.

The allocation for SSA is Rs 10,400 crore (Rs 104 billion) in 2007-08, which is Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) less than the Rs 11,100 crore (Rs 111 billion) allocated for the SSA in 2006-07.

The HRD ministry also fears that with a reduction in the Centre's share, the Centre would lose its persuasive power, "which was contingent on preponderant funding by Government of India."

According to the SSA provisions, the Centre-state funding pattern was to be 85:15 in the Ninth Plan period, 75:25 in the Tenth Plan period and 50:50 from the Eleventh Plan period. All the states are opposed to the new pattern from this plan period, which they say would disrupt the progress of SSA, a nation-wide programme to universalise elementary education.

Prasad Nichenametla in New Delhi