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More money for education likely

November 07, 2007 13:10 IST
India is inching closer to attaining its two-decade-old goal - that of the education sector being allocated 6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - in the 11th Five-Year plan (2007-2012).

The Planning Commission, according to highly-placed sources, says GDP allocation to education will increase from its from current 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent by the end of the 11th Plan. Around 19.7 per cent of the total plan resources would be set aside for education, according to the sources in the Commission.

The Plan outlay for the education sector as a whole will thus be over Rs 2,20,000 crore (Rs 2,220 billion)  five times more than what it was during the 10th Five-Year plan.

Sam Pitroda, chairman, National Knowledge Commission, says, "The Indian education sector needs a serious revamp and the government has recognised the fact that primary, higher and vocational education is a must. We need to improve all areas of education and an increased allocation will only help us to do so."

In line with the commitment of increasing resources for education, the allocation for the education sector has, over the years, increased significantly.

The plan outlay on education has increased from Rs 151.20 crore (Rs 1.51 billion) in the 1st Five Year plan to Rs 43,825 crore (Rs 438.25 billion) in the 10th Five Year plan (2002-2007). The expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP also rose from 0.64 per cent in 1951-52 to 3.74 per cent in 2003-2004.

Earlier, confirming the increased allocation towards education in the 11th Five-Year plan, HRD minister Arjun Singh had told Business Standard that grant for education in the 11th Five-Year Plan would allow the academic world enough space to experiment.

In fact, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his independence day speech, had announced the setting up of eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and 30 central universities. The government is already working on which states will house these institutes of excellence.

"With increased funds, establishing these IITs and IIMs will not be an issue with the government. Besides, the government is also looking at public-private partnership to involve private parties in education," said a professor.

With less than 50 per cent of secondary school students in India continuing college education in any form, and almost two-thirds of Indian universities and 90 per cent of the colleges being rated as "below average" on quality parameters, the funds would be utilised to put in place a better system of education.

The Planning Commission is also targeting a gross enrollment ratio (GER) of 15 per cent by 2015. In the 10th Five-Year Plan, the GER was 10 per cent.
Kalpana Pathak in Mumbai
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