Budget 2017-18: A Big Disappointment for School Education

20th February, 2017, New Delhi, RTE Forum. Shiksha Samvaad: A discussion on Education in Budget 2017 was organised by Delhi RTE Forum in Press Club of India, New Delhi on 20th February. As per the decision of the National Council Meeting in Lucknow on 21-22 Dec, 2017, RTE Forum had decided to observe 20th February, as a National Demand Day for complete implementation of RTE all over the country through State Forums operating in 20 states.

It was decided to submit a Memorandum to the Prime Minister through District Collectors in various districts of different states. Besides organising people and media through this dialogue on education in Budget, Delhi RTE Forum is also organising various community meetings in communities across Delhi.

As we know that like the previous year’s Budget allocations, this year too, the Budget 2017-2018 has been very disappointing for the education sector. Expectation has been for a higher allocation of resources for school education from pre-school to secondary education. However to utter dismay, after a year of long waiting, school education has been totally neglected in the budget. 

Delhi RTE Forum expressed grave concern on ignorance of the central government towards school education reflected in the recent Union Budget 2017-18. A presentation on Budget Analysis was done by Ms. Protiva Kundu, CBGA.  She said this budget has come as a big disappointment for the education sector already crumbling due to insufficient fund allocations since long. She said that due to severe fund crisis, the implementation of RTE Act, 2009, as a Fundamental Right couldn’t take real shape on the ground despite constitutional obligations of the government. The entire process has become a mere incremental budgeting.

Mr. Ambarish Rai, National Convenor, RTE Forum said that the budget reflects the intention of the government towards implementing the RTE Act. It’s a matter of serious concern that despite RTE Act, 2009 being fundamental right of our children only 9.5% schools are made RTE complaint across the country till date. Low allocation is hampering quality of education in Govt schools which caused 5 lakh teacher vacancies remaining unfulfilled while 6.4 lakh teachers are untrained, 10% schools are single teacher schools, 30% schools without functional toilet for girls and 20% schools still lacking safe drinking water. He said that this budget again totally ignores the promises made by ruling party in its Election Manifesto to enhance the education financing up to 6% which was a necessary precondition to make education accessible to each and every child. This budget will benefit only a selected few children in higher education and depriving millions of children from their Universal rights to education.

Prof. Janaki Rajan talked at length on perspective of Budget allocation on Education and broadly to social sector. She said that Budget has made no adequate financial arrangements for pre-schooling of children which is essential for every child to prepare herself for schooling. This way the Govt. has ignored 158 Million children below the 6 years of age group and their educational rights. Even children in the private schools are subjected to pay high fees. There are fees for bus and for all odd things. Parents would love to send their children to government schools if there is quality education in Government schools. We are talking of quality and social fabric of society. If teachers are bad in India; 92 percent of teacher training institutes are private. How much does it cost to run a good school? she asked which is important to analyse before budget allocation.

It was shared that this budget will have severely implication on the most marginalised section of the society including Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, girls and the children from other vulnerable sections of the society. This was also reflected in the speeches made by representatives from NCDHR, Mr Abhay Xaxa, Care India Dr Suman Sachdeva, Mr Agwan from Institute of Policy Studies, Dr. Bharat from Delhi RTE Forum and Senior Journalist Mr Urmilesh from Rajya Sabha TV. 

The budget has negated the interests and needs of Dalit and Adivasi children. Scholarship is a basic entitlement for dalit and Adivasi children. Residential schools (Ashram Shala) in Adivasi regions are bringing under PPP and given to companies like GE. What is required on the contrary, are resource centres which should be in the mother tongue of the children. There is no system in schools to combat discrimination happening towards Dalits and tribal children. Teachers should be trained to monitor discrimination in schools and strengthen grievance redressal system. The suggestions given by NCDHR to the finance ministry based on their work in community has been ignored completely.

Radhika Alkaji from Arth Aastha said CWSN was included after the amendment in 2012. It also provided for home based education which is almost dysfunctional today. Children with high order disorder are therefore completely outside the purview of education today. In schools resource teachers have become only teachers for CWSN. It has become a regressive process despite the initial euphoria after the RTE Act. Today, there is a law which has been enacted for CWSN, where RTE Act has been diluted. It doesn’t talk of free but only compulsory schools for CWSN. It comes under MSJE. So CWSN are given different types of schools under the new law. Under SSA, MJSE and SSA distribute aids and appliances through convergence However, there has been cut in this scheme. One measure for learning outcome will neglect and leave behind CWSN. There is a law in the disability but there is no provisioning. Ground level situation is very challenging. Catching up is becoming very difficult.

Suman Sachdeva from Care India, said that quality education in safe and secure environment is not adequate for girls in India. The indicators for making a budget is not aimed at this. For girls issues become different in different type of schools viz. regular and residential schools. Teacher’s training is also not reflective of the needs of the children. 33 percent of girls are drop out. Budgets are not analysed keeping the needs of the community and children at the forefront. This is made statutory through the Act. However is it happening in reality? A national economic crisis is what is heading ahead.

Shri Urmilesh, senior journalist asked what is not taking us to the people. In UP 52 percent students are in private schools. Why is the focus not being diverted to collective consciousness and is withdrawn towards individual spaces. How do we organize people so that people raise their voices in a collective for education? Why there is an ebb and high of collective consciousness in the society. However budgets for defence continue to remain high without much question. Fundamental questions should be raised which has its implication on education as well.

Abdul Rashid Agwan from Institute of Policy studies and Advocacy, 14.23 percent of the population constitute of Muslims in the country, however in case of budgets only 0.195 percent  only goes for Muslims. MHRD has a scheme for Muslim children who attend Madarsas.Only 4 percent goes to Madarsas. Whatever Schemes are there is not implemented accordingly. 995 schools were sanctioned under the 12th plan, but only 10 schools have been established. It is also less than the children belonging to SC and ST children. Muslim children need an affirmation action for their development. Accessibility, quality, job opportunities, discrimination, demotivation will be impacted because of the neglect in the budget.

Dr. Bharat from Delhi RTE Forum said ND-DNT children are not only in budget but also not in education. These children are also living the stigma of a communal tribe even today. They are segregated and discriminated in schools.

The demands from the Forum and Civil Society Groups included to ensure at least 6% of GDP for education to all children; full implementation of the RTE Act, 2009; to recruit qualified and trained teachers for all classes; safety and security in schools; inclusive and quality education; and bring pre-primary to secondary education under legal entitlement. It also demanded to stop commercialization of school education; school closure; any form of discrimination and violence and also any violation of the RTE Act.
A poster was launched which stated the above mentioned demands.

State RTE Forums in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha including other places observed meetings and submitted the memorandums to respective District Collectors commemorating 20th February to demand ‘Equitable, Quality and Inclusive Education for All Children’. 200 memorandums will be raised from across the country staging these demands to the state authorities.

Mitra Ranjan
Media and Communication
RTE Forum
Mob. 9650436951

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