NEW DELHI: The Right to Education Act was a "remarkable achievement" despite its shortcomings, Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Monday, even as he lamented that government financing for education was insufficient.
"Despite the shortcomings in its implementation, the Right to Education Act remains a remarkable achievement," Ansari said addressing the National Stocktaking Convention organised by the Right to Education Forum.
"While concerns regarding privatisation of education remain, the Act offers a first step towards an educational system in India that provides access, equity and inclusion for all children," he said.
He also expressed concern over the decline in state funding of education.
"The decline in state funding in the key social sector programmes, including education, is of particular concern. Public services like education are the key to nurture participatory growth. Financing for Right to Education remains inadequate," Ansari said.
"Total public expenditure for education, at less than 3.5 percent of GDP, is well below the 6 percent commitment made in the National Education Policies," he said.
Ansari said that at 52 percent, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) received more than half the money under school education allocation in the latest budget, but over the last five years, the SSA budget has declined by 6 percent, from Rs.23,873 crore ($4.4 billion) in 2012-13 to Rs.22,500 crore ($3.3 billion) for 2016-17.
He also pointed out that large gaps remain in implementing the scheme.
"Critical appraisal of the functioning of the Right to Education reveals that large gaps exist in its implementation.
"Even with the increasing primary enrolment rates, India has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world which is more than the out-of-school children in whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
"There is a huge disparity between the urban and rural education and rich and poor children have radically different schooling experiences," he said.