New Delhi: After the euphoria comes the real test. The cost of implementing the historic Right to Education Act over the next five years by Centre and states works out to a whopping Rs 1.78 lakh crore.
The new law will come into force from the next academic year and since right to education is now a fundamental right, it is mandatory on the part of the government to provide what is demanded.
HRD ministry sources say the total demand of Rs 1.78 lakh crore when finetuned will only work out roughly to just one-third of the staggering amount. They said that nearly Rs 50,000 crore can be provided to the kitty by the Centre and states from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan fund. This brings the demand down to Rs 1.28 lakh crore. The ministry expects that in the 12th Plan nearly Rs 60,000 crore will be allocated to SSA. But this will still leave the effective demand to Rs 68,000 crore. Then again, Centre will have the tough task of persuading the states to step forward to share the cost of fulfilling the commitment.
On Friday, HRD ministry sent the proposal to the finance ministry and a copy to the 13th Finance Commission for early perusal. But sources expect a long winter of discussion and negotiation with states, finance ministry and Planning Commission before it can be finalised. The focus of discussion will be the funding pattern of RTE. Currently, SSA is funded by the Centre and states in the ratio of 60:40. It will be 50:50 by the 12th Plan.
In case of RTE, chief ministers are already gearing up to do a collective bargaining. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has written to PM Manmohan Singh demanding that the funding pattern for RTE should be 90:10 between Centre and states. He has circulated the letter to other CMs as well. Earlier, Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik had demanded a 75:25 funding pattern for RTE between Centre and states. Bihar has also said it cannot bear the extra burden since it is already shelling out 25% of its annual budget on education.
The demand for additional Rs 68,000 crore will go towards improving the infrastructure in schools, student-teacher ratio and in hiring more teachers. While SSA has a student-teacher ratio of 40:1, RTE stipulates a ratio of 30:1. The RTE law stipulates that from class one to class five, if a school has 60 children there should be two teachers, for 61 to 90 children there should be three teachers, and for 91 to 120 children there should be four teachers. There are similar stipulations in case of buildings, working days, play material, games and sports equipment.