A differential funding pattern has been proposed under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the 12th Plan, which will provide a fillip to States designated 'special category' and those with low education indicators

A new differential fund sharing pattern for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the 12th Plan has been proposed by the Human Resource Development Ministry to address the special requirements of States which are not performing too well. In addition to the States in the north eastern region and Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have now been designated as ‘special category’ States and the Centre will bear 90 per cent of the funding.

For the nine States with educational indices lower than the national average, the Centre will bear 75 per cent of the SSA funding burden. These States are Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Odisha. The remaining States will continue to have the 65:35 sharing pattern.

According to highly informed sources in the Human Resource Development Ministry, higher education has got a larger increase in allocation from Rs. 1.1 lakh crore to Rs. 1.6 lakh crore. The additional funds will be used for providing financial aid to students that, in turn, would improve enrolment, funding to state institutions and research and innovation.

In the 12th plan, the Ministry aims to set up comprehensive student financial aid programmes at all levels and establish the Credit Guarantee Fund for loans to increase enrolment ratio at the higher education level to 25.2 per cent by 2017-18, from the current 17.9 per cent.

Even though the initial allocation for the sector, both higher and school education, was considerably higher — between 100 to 125 per cent rise in funding over the 11th Plan, sources told The Hindu that Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal sought increased allocation at last week’s Planning Commission full-panel meeting as the allocated sum was not enough for investments in secondary education including skill development, and to expand the Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya network. There are plans to set up 500 new Kendriya Vidyalayas and 378 Navodaya Vidyalaya in the 12th Plan.

The Planning Commission reportedly have accepted the argument for higher funding. As against a demand of Rs. 65,000 crore, over and above the Rs. 40,000 crore for secondary education, the Plan Panel has agreed to increase the allocation to Rs. 55,000 crore. Though far less than the Rs. 1.25 lakh crore that the Ministry had asked for, the increased funding is expected to help the effort to universalise secondary education.

The Ministry had also demanded an additional amount of Rs. 1 lakh crore over the next four years to implement the Right to Education, provision for a year of pre-school and strengthen residential school system in SC, ST and minority blocks, but this was not accepted. The demand of an additional Rs. 30,000 crore for mid-day meal scheme was also turned down by the Commission.