Special Correspondent

Allocation for higher education is the highest ever in State history

Salary for teachers as per revised UGC scale

Medical university to start functioning in 2010-11

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has proposed an increase in the outlay for the education sector by 50 per cent from Rs.208 crore to Rs.316 crore in the State budget for 2010-11.

The Finance Minister, while presenting the budget in the Assembly on Friday, said 40 per cent of the amount, Rs.121 crore, would be for school education. A sum of Rs.30 crore of this amount was the State's share of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. In addition to this, Rs.105 crore will be available from local self-government institutions and Rs.165 crore from the Union government for the programme.

Academic standard

An amount of Rs.37 crore was earmarked for schemes to raise the academic standard of school education and Rs.26 crore, which included Central share, was provided for scholarships. A sum of Rs.55 crore, including Central share, was allotted for Information Technology education. The government proposed to mobilise Rs.100 crore for the Higher Education Scholarship Fund. As Central assistance for the Literacy Mission had ceased, a sum of Rs.5 crore was provided for the programme and Rs.30 lakh for the PRISM education project and a Children's Sports Park in Kozhikode.

Non-Plan grant

The Minister described the allocation of Rs.121 crore for higher education, excluding the Kerala Agriculture University and higher technical education, as the highest ever. Last year, it was only Rs.57 crore, the increase being 112 per cent. The average annual expenditure on higher education during the period between 2001-02 and 2005-06 was Rs.23 crore a year. The normal annual increase in non-Plan grant was 10 per cent. But no increase was granted during the period mentioned above. As against the expenditure of Rs.479 crore in 2001-02, the expenditure in 2005-06 was only Rs.486 crore. That was the root cause of the financial crisis in the higher education sector. An amount of Rs.796 crore was given to higher education under non-Plan in 2009-10.

The Finance Minister announced the government's decision to give salary as per the revised UGC scales to teachers in Kerala from the current month. All the conditions in the UGC scheme except increase in pension age would be implemented as a package. No relaxation will be allowed in the academic norms. The issue of allowing retrospective effect would be decided later depending on the availability of Central assistance.

Vacancies to be filled

He announced the government's resolve to fill all the existing vacancies of teachers in universities. He also earmarked Rs.30 crore for the modernisation of university libraries and Rs 4.5 crore for schemes to attract scholars from outside to our universities, to conduct research activities outside Kerala and for providing special financial assistance to talented individuals. The budget set apart Rs.5 crore for the Higher Education Council and Rs 11.5 crore for the improvement of college buildings and hostels. The Minister expressed concern at the huge revenue gap and steeply increasing pension liabilities of universities. Fiscal discipline, identification of more own funds and more government assistance were his suggestions to overcome the former problem and the constitution of a pension fund to tackle the latter.

He increased the outlay for technical education from Rs.50 crore to Rs.65 crore. He also earmarked Rs.10 crore for the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat). The government will depart from the policy followed hitherto to start a new Arts and Science College at Ambalapuzha.

The Finance Minister set apart Rs. 21 crore for institutions under the Medical Education Directorate, Rs.3.7 crore for dental colleges and Rs.3.3 crore for nursing colleges. The Medical University would start functioning in 2010-11. A cardio thoracic surgery unit would be set up at the Alappuzha Medical College and an advanced diagnostics centre at Kozhikode Medical College.

A sum of Rs.20 lakh would be provided for the peripheral centre of the RCC at Neendakara.

Land will be provided in Wayanad for a new campus of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology.