NGOs demand hike in education budget

NEW DELHI - Various child rights organisations have demanded that the budgetary allocation for education - for the 40 percent young population of the country - be increased when the union budget is presented early next month.

Jayakumar Christian, director of the Chennai-based World Vision, said: As of now only about 4.8 percent of the GDP is dedicated for children in terms of education, who constitute 40 percent population of the country. We want this increased to at least six percent.”

Legislation on the proposed Right to Education bill, which makes education free and compulsory for children in the age group of six and 14, is another demand that organistaions have been long championing.

Umesh Gupta of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a Delhi-based child rights organistaion, said: The UPA government’s promise, as laid down in the common minimum programme, of spending six percent of the GDP as public resource for education remains unfulfilled with the combined outlay for the primary education departments of the centre and states remaining at a meager 2.84 percent of GDP in 2007-08.”

“We, therefore, urge the government that the spending on education should not be less than six percent, he added.

Sahara Jain, director of another NGO, added: Six percent of the GDP and 20 percent of the total government expenditure should be prioritised towards education, and half of this needs to be targeted towards elementary education.”

In a letter to President Pratibha Patil, several voluntary organisations, including BBA and World Vision, put down their demands for implementation of the Right to Education Bill and realising the millennium development goals.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is to present the annual budget to the Lok Sabha July 6.

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