Prominent child rights body Child Rights and You (CRY) on Tuesday welcomed the Right to Education (RTE) Act but noted that it was heavily underfunded.

Based on earlier government studies, CRY had suggested for keeping aside 10 per cent of GDP as resources for implementation of the Act.

According to CRY, there was no mention of it in the RTE which stated, “It is not possible to quantify the financial requirement on this account at this stage.” The NGO said this was not true.

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee report of 2005 is the latest publicly available estimate of how much it would cost to implement quality education for all children. This plugs the required spending at Rs 4.36 lakh crore over six years, CRY’s Communication Manager Priya Zutshi told PTI here.

“The more we delay investments, the more would be the amount required to fill the backlog of under spends. This can be seen by comparing the Tapas Majumdar Committee’s 1999 estimate on the funds required to ensure elementary education of eight years with the Financial Memorandum to the Constitution (93rd) Amendment,” she said.

The Committee recommended an additional investment of Rs 1,37,600 crore over a 10-year period to bring all out of school children to schools and enable them to complete the elementary stage, which in 1999 amounted to 0.78 per cent of the GDP then, CRY pointed out.

In 2002-03, the same amount works out to a lesser proportion, that is, 0.63 per cent of the GDP, CRY said.

However, the Financial Memorandum to the Constitution (93rd) Amendment Bill, 2001 states that a sum of Rs 98,000 crores will be required over a 10-year period to implement the fundamental right to education for children in the age group of six to 14 years, it said.

"It works out to Rs 9,800 crores a year on an average (0.44 per cent of GDP in 2002-03), about 30 per cent less than that estimated by the Tapas Majumdar Committee," the NGO said.

"What provisions have been excluded in this calculation is not known," Ms. Zutshi said.

Expert committees set up by the Centre as well as Common School System Commission established by the Government of Bihar have calculated that an annual allocation of Rs 73,000 crores should take care of providing free, quality education to all children between 6-14 years in the country, CRY said.

Unfortunately, in a year that sees the passing of this Act, the government's spending on education has actually reduced from 3.84 per cent of the Union budget in the year 2008-2009 to 3.03 per cent, the NGO added.

According to CRY, their other suggestions for the draft of the Act had been the inclusion of children below six years as well as those between 15 and 18 years in the main provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, besides make sure that there is a school with qualified teachers and proper facilities within one km of any habitation.