Despite a higher devolution of funds under the 14th Finance Commission, the proportion that states spend on education has reduced since 2015. The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has cited this decrease in its presentation to the 15th Finance Commission to make a strong pitch for “ring-fencing” of funds (about 20%) for school education.
According to the data shared by the Department of School Education in a meeting with the 15th Finance Commission in February, the expenditure on education, as a proportion of total spending by the states, decreased from 17.57% in 2010-11 to 15.18% in 2017-18. The decline is sharper especially after the beginning of the 14th Finance Commission period in 2015-16 (see box on page 2).
With higher fiscal resources at their disposal, the Union government claimed the states would increase their spending on the social sector. However, when it comes to education, the data shared by the HRD Ministry presents a sobering picture.
The Union government, in 2016, had rationalised the Centre-State funding pattern of many centrally sponsored schemes, including the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The funds sharing pattern of SSA between the Centre and the states changed from 65:35 to 60:40. This was done in view of the higher share in revenues given to the states, from 32% to 42%, under the 14th Finance Commission.
Apart from ring-fencing of funds, the HRD Ministry has also suggested a clear award for states that increase their spending on school education at the rate of at least 10% per annum.
“To foster accountability and effective utilisation of funds, an independent third-party monitoring system is envisioned, which would give real-time feedback on the health of the education sector. Further, states would be advised to follow transparent recruitment procedures, e-payment of dues and emoluments and Aadhaar or unique ID linked databases to prevent leakages,” the HRD Ministry’s presentation states.
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