Bihar School Education Budget Analysis

>>Increase on Paper, Less Impact on Ground

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Quality education in schools in Bihar has been a focus area since the 13th the Finance Commission allocations with special emphasis on professionally qualified teachers, infrastructure, and intervention for children with special needs. A joint study by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) and CRY- Child Rights and You reveals an increase in the total expenditure as well as the education expenditure for the state in the 14th Finance Commission period.  But has the increase translated into reality? Figures and analysis tell a slightly different tale.

Between 2014-2015 and 2017-2018, the expenditure on school education (I-XII) in Bihar has increased by a substantial 52 percent. But owing to unequal distribution of components of the total budget, the impact has been less than desirable. According to data mentioned in the study, the largest share of the school education budget – a whopping 68 per cent is spent on the salary of teachers. Components such as teachers’ education (1.3 per cent), monitoring and evaluation (0.0 per cent) and infrastructure (4 per cent) are still being grossly neglected.

With spending on teachers’ education and training dismally low, there is an explainable dearth in the quality of recruited teachers — 39 per cent of teachers at the primary level and 35 per cent at the secondary level remain professionally unqualified.

Infrastructure in government schools does not paint a pretty picture. The allocation is a mere four per cent, civil works are happening at a very slow rate and there is very little scope of pooling in additional resources. At the secondary level, only 58.1 per cent of the schools (a shade over half) boast electricity connection.

In the last 10 years, there has been a substantial improvement in the coverage of elementary education in terms of in increased enrolment in the state. Despite this, there exists a large number of Out of School Children in Bihar. A survey by SSA puts the figure at 2.01 lakh in 2017-18. The situation is extremely critical at the secondary level. Between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, the state witnessed a 9.5 per cent increase in the dropouts.

Another focus area of the study is the analysis of Bihar government’s intervention for children with special needs (CWSN). In Bihar, for a population of 1.7 lakh children who fall in this category, an outlay of Rs 54 crore was approved in 2016-17. Of the total approved budget, only 21 per cent has been utilized.

“Budget and its utilization is a reflection of what we choose to prioritize. In spite of an increase in overall budgets, investments critical to ensure quality education and learning outcomes are less than desirable. There should be an increased focus on the infrastructure allocation. There is also a need to ensure effective utilization of resources teamed with adequate monitoring,” says Trina Chakrabarti, Regional Director, East, CRY.

In view of the findings, the study has recommended renewed focus on teachers’ training and infrastructure building and more allocation of funds to address the needs of Out of School Children (OOSC) and children with disabilities.  It has also asked the state government to substantially step up and sustain investments on education for a longer period for far-reaching impacts and returns.

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