The unexpected cut made by the Union government in its allocation towards the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan has set the alarm bells ringing in the State with several education projects likely to be either abandoned or put on hold.
While Kerala had pushed for a budget with an outlay of ₹1,941.10 crore, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development had brought the indicative budget down to ₹680 crore prior to the project approval board (PAB) meeting.
Under the arrangement, the Union government was expected to sanction ₹413.43 crore under the 60:40 fund sharing pattern between the Central and the State governments.
Later, the Centre promised to hike the outlay to ₹729 crore of which it would provide ₹430 crore.
However, the Ministry has now decided to fix the Centre’s allocation at ₹206.06 crore, less than half of what had been assured earlier.
The allocation is being projected to be a considerable increase when compared to the ₹183.09 crore allocated the previous year.
Notably, it is the continuation of a practice that has seen the released funds being considerably lower than that approved by the PAB, following presentations made by each State.
In the 2017-18 fiscal, i.e., prior to the integration of three Centrally sponsored schemes to float Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the Centre had released ₹136.80 crore for projects by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the State, while the PAB had approved ₹338.838 crore.
Likewise, the allocation of ₹33.64 crore for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) had been much lower than the Centre’s initially approved share of ₹102.81 crore.
SSA State director A.P. Kuttykrishnan said there was no official communication yet regarding the allocation of funds.
He, however, expressed concern that a dip in allocation would disrupt several projects, especially with the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan designed to cover the pre-primary to higher secondary school levels.
S.Y. Shooja, State Academic Project Officer, RMSA, said that of the total outlay, the amount required for disbursing salaries of the administrative staff of both SSA and RMSA would come to around ₹160 crore.
Roughly ₹119 crore would be expended for implementing the Right to Education Act. Free uniform, textbooks, meals, and transportation of students from remote areas are some of its components.
Yet another programme that would be affected is the Scheme of Inclusive Education for Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS) aimed to benefit differently abled students. While the State had obtained approval for the appointment of 800 additional resource teachers, the lack of financial support could jeopardise the move.
There are around 2,000 resource teachers under the scheme now.