As the public education system in Kerala marks a turnaround, Centre has drastically reduced the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) fund allocation for the state. The fund is cut almost half from Rs 413.43 crore, as allocated in the indicative budget in April this year, to Rs 206 crore.
“Kids in Kerala are being the victims of the political vendetta of the Centre,” state finance minister Dr. Thomas Issac said in a Facebook post. He further writes that Modi is afraid of political threat even from the kids and by cutting down the fund allocation, he acts as a Modern Kamsa.
The budget allocation for the states comes after the submission of their annual plans to the centre by the states, and negotiations with MHRD. The state has formulated a plan of Rs 1941.10 focussing on 38 sections including free textbooks, uniforms distribution, martial arts training for girls, vocational training for students, training for teachers etc.
Though the Centre has increased the fund earmarked for SSA to Rs 34,000 crore in the 2018-19 financial year from Rs 28,000 crore from last year, both Kerala and Karnataka have witnessed a drastic cut as compared to the allocation during the indicative budget. As per the indicative budget allocation, Kerala was entitled to Rs 413.43 crore, and Karnataka was entitled to Rs 926.37 crore. While Kerala got Rs 206.06 crore that marks about 50 percent cut, Karnataka got Rs 577.84 crore which marks almost 38 percent cut.
Read more: Dismantling the UGC: A Design to Put Higher Education under the Absolute Command of Capital and Hindutva
Earlier on April 24 this year, in a letter – furnishing the details of the fund released to states and union territories – from Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), it was mentioned that the draft framework of implementation of the scheme may be used for the preparation of the annual plans for the states/union territories. When the Centre allocated the funds, however, Kerala got almost the half of the indicative budget amount.
BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and AIADMK-ruled Tamil Nadu have such a cut in funds allocation. Rs 4,773.10 crore, Rs 2,717.18 crore, Rs 2,406.60 and Rs 1,422 crore have been earmarked for Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu respectively.
Sixty per cent of the total expenditure of each state has to be contributed by the Centre, except for the hill states and the Northeastern states – for which the Centre bears 90 per cent of the expenditure for the SSA scheme.
SSA has been proposed in the Union Budget of 2018-19 to treat school education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12. The programme, which was launched as an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12 has been, therefore, prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes subsumes the three Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
Again on July 27, Javadekar, in a reply to a starred question in Rajya Sabha, termed SSA as an integrated scheme for school education, and a centrally sponsored scheme with effect from the year 2018-19. So far, the Centre has approved the allocation of Rs 75,000 crore for the period from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2020, which is a 20 per cent increase in the current allocations, the minister added.
As the minister explained in the Parliament, the features of the programme include “annual grant of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000 per school for the strengthening of libraries, increased composite grants for schools from Rs. 14,500-50,000 to Rs. 25,000-1 Lakh and to be allocated on the basis of school enrolment, annual grant for sports equipment at the cost of Rs. 5000 for primary schools, Rs. 10,000 for upper primary schools and up to Rs. 25,000 for secondary and senior secondary schools, and allocation for children with special needs (CwSN) increased from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 3,500 per child per annum including a stipend of Rs. 200 per month for CWSN girls to be provided from Classes I to XII. – earlier it was only for classes IX to XII.”
Fund allocation for uniforms enhanced “from Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 per child per annum, an allocation for textbooks enhanced from Rs. 150/250 to Rs. 250/400 per child per annum, upgradation of existing schools, upgradation of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) from Class 6-8 to Class 6-12, strengthening Teacher Education Institutions like SCERTs and DIETs to improve the quality of teachers with SCERT as the nodal institution for in-service and pre-service teacher training, enhanced use of digital technology in education through smart classrooms, digital boards and DTH channels etc also were included in the scheme.”
As it is a Central government scheme aiming at the uplifting of the education system all over the country, why the demands of certain states are being abandoned? Dr. Issac termed it as a political vendetta and said: “Now, even children are victims of BJP's revenge attitude towards Kerala political commitment.”
Read more: 4 Years of Systematic Destruction of Education Under Modi Regime