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Financing the Right to Education

An assessment of the resource gaps for fulfilling the right to education across Indian states presents a disconcerting picture. The gap between normative requirement and actual expenditure is particularly large in the poorer states, requiring not only a higher overall fiscal push, but one that would address the unequal positions of the states. Since equalisation is the primary mandate of the Finance Commission, it should address the inequalities in provision of elementary education, which is a merit good plus a core constitutional guarantee. To meet the special needs of the 16 focus states with the largest additional requirement vis-à-vis their revenue base, it is important that the Fifteenth Finance Commission responds with specific purpose grants of an adequate magnitude for elementary education.

What Does the Right to Education Need to Achieve?

In the context of the Right to Education, it is essential that the government (i) lays down a clear financial road map based on a normative framework with clearly stated and transparent norms that apply equitably; (ii) recognises the unequal financial position of the states and the crucial role of the centre in forging long-run development goals; and (iii) approaches finance in relation to social policy.

Universalisation of School Education Using the Public-school System is Feasible

One of the challenges for universalisation of school education using the public-school system arises from the supposed lack of financial resources. Particularly, the high salary of teachers as per the Sixth Pay Commission has been used to point towards infeasibility of public institutions serving the goal of universalisation (Jain and Dholakia, 2009; 2010). This article demonstrates that with more realistic parameter values, the estimates would be revised downwards significantly. Further, in a federal set up, teacher salary is arrived at through a complex set of negotiations, such that the recommendation of the Central Pay Commission is not sacrosanct. In working towards a normative, a “middle path” of decent salary for all teachers is suggested, which would ensure both equity, efficiency and feasibility.
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