For all the talk on education quality and improving learning outcomes, little is actually being done to achieve either.
The Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and Child Rights and You (CRY) studied education budgets in 10 general-category states and found that allocations for measures, even statutory provisions for ensuring quality — teacher training, monitoring, community mobilisation and training — are close to negligible in education budgets. In fact, share of any of these categories rarely rises beyond 1% in the education or Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) budget in any state.
"There is much discussion on quality but governments are not investing in the systems responsible for improving quality," said Subrat Das of CBGA. The share of teacher-training in the education budget doesn't rise above 1% in any of the 10 states included in the analysis except Bihar, where it was 1.6% in 2015-16 (budget estimate).
Inspection and monitoring are similarly neglected with their share crossing 1% in only Tamil Nadu and Odisha, both 1.2%. The study considered all 12 years of schooling. While there is huge variation across states, per-student expenditure is less than that of relatively successful centrally-funded systems — the Kendriya and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (KVs and JNVs) — nearly everywhere.
More than 98% schools in the 10 states have formed school management committees (SMCs). Mandated by the RTE Act 2009, these are composed mainly of parents and community-members. In addition to monitoring the functioning of schools, the RTE also requires them to formulate school development plans and clear school budgets. But, again, states have spent very little on training them. The share of training SMCs and Panchayati Raj Institutions in the SSA budget was less than 1% in all 10 states in 2014-15.
Teachers' salaries do claim the largest chunk of the budget in all 10 states, ranging from 51.6% in Bihar to 80.4% in Rajasthan. But, as Protiva Kundu from CBGA said, "The myth that teachers' salaries take away all the funds for education is not true." State governments, especially UP and Maharashtra, spend significant amounts on non-government schools — as grants-in-aid and compensation for children enrolled in the 25% quota for Economically Weaker Sections and Disadvantaged Groups.
Education as a sector is under-funded, believe the organisations that authored the report. The per-student expenditure in public education in practically every general-category state is below that of KVs and JNVs.