Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MHRD grounds 6 schemes for lack of funds

The education budget was increased by 24 per cent this year, but the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is still facing a fund crunch, so much so that it has put six new schemes on hold. These are the schemes that have run aground after the Ministry of Finance said it did not have the money to fund them.

  • The MHRD planned to set up 200 Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools) in the current Five-Year Plan period, but has managed to get only a 100 off the block. Another proposal to set up 50 more of these vidyalayas is also on hold.

  • A proposal to set up 10 Science Magnet Navodaya Schools, at an estimated cost of Rs. 15-20 crore (Rs. 150-160 million) each, in close collaboration with R&D institutes like the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Council for Science & Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

  • A partially Centrally-funded "incentivisation plan" to help states set up universities and colleges and upgrade existing ones to increase gross enrolment ratio.

  • Setting up teacher training institutes to meet the stringent demands of the Right to Education Act. Estimates suggest that some 5 million teachers will be needed over next three years to ensure a 30:1 pupil teacher ratio as mandated by the Act.

  • A bouquet of teacher welfare schemes to attract talent to the profession, including a life and health insurance and housing scheme that is estimated to cost the Centre Rs. 2,500 crore (Rs. 25 billion) a year.

  • A long-pending proposal to set up 2,500 model schools under a Public Private Partnership format. At least 500 of these schools were planned to be set up in 2011-12 at a cost of over Rs. 500 crore (Rs. 5 billion).
While the Ministry of Finance has made it clear that many of these plans cannot be implemented during this plan period and would have to be pushed to the 12th plan, others would be scrutinised by the Planning Commission before they are cleared. This year’s budget had allocated Rs. 52,060 crore (Rs. 520.6 billion) to the MHRD, the highest for a social sector ministry, but this now seems insufficient.

The MHRD had placed a demand for Rs. 80,000 crore (Rs. 800 billion), arguing that it needed more cash as it runs a host of flagship programmes, has to stabilise a bunch of new IITs, IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and Central universities set up by the UPA government and push forward the Right to Education Act.

Against a demand of Rs. 60,000 crore (Rs. 600 billion) for school education, the department got Rs. 38,957 crore (Rs. 389.57 billion), while the Higher Education department got Rs. 13,103 crore (Rs. 131.03 billion) against the Rs. 21,000 crore (Rs. 210 billion) it had asked for.

Source: The Financial Express, April 19, 2011

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