Spending 20% More On Education In 2008-09

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) India will spend Rs 34,400 crore on Human Resource Development in 2008-09-- 20 per cent more than it did last year-- trying to boost enrollment at primary and upper primary levels, Parliament was informed today.

The higher spending was still way below six per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product, officials acknowledged alluding to an allocation target recommended by the Kothari Commission as early as 1968.

More than a third of it-- Rs 13,100 crore-- will be spent on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan-- a flagship project to universalise primary education, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told Lok Sabha while unveiling Budget proposals for 2008-09.

He said another Rs 8,000 crore was to be spent on Mid-day meals and Rs 4,554 crore on secondary education.

Last year, the Manmohan Singh government allocated Rs 28,674 crore for the education sector nationwide, which includes special attention to help Northeastern region catch up.

Mr Chidambaram said the Abhiyan focus would shift from primary level access and infrastructure to enhancing retention and better learning quality and access to upper primary classes.

He said a Model School programme-- to set up 6,000 high quality schools-- would be started in 2008-09 at Rs 650 crore.

He also mentioned plans to set up 16 central universities in States which hitherto have none.

Also on cards, he said, were three Indian Institutes of Technology-- in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, two Indian Institutes of Science Education Research at Bhopal and Tiruvananthapuram and two Schools of Planning and Architecture at Bhopal and Vijaywada.

Mr Chidambaram said more higher education institutes as promised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be established during the 11th Plan period, without specifying when.

He specified a Re five crore grant proposed for Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune which he pointed out was one of India's oldest institutions of modern learning.

UNI MJ MS HS1829

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