Saturday, Nov 22, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Delivering the Malcolm Adiseshiah Memorial Lecture on "State, households and markets in education", organised by the Madras Institute of Development Studies and the Malcolm and Elizabeth Adiseshiah Trust, he explained that it was not households, but the Government that should feel socially, economically, educationally and ethically compelled to spend on education. He pointed out that this was the practice in several of the most civilised societies in the world.
Prof. Tilak said there was an increasing unwillingness on the part of the Government to spend on education because of which households were forced to incur expenditure on education for the children. The Government's reluctance was related to its attitudes and policies. The other two phenomena households and markets were the direct outcome of the Government's policies.
During the post-Independence period, there had been a significant increase in the expenditure on education. In absolute terms, the expenditure on education which was Rs. 55 crores in 1947 had increased 900 times in the next five decades. In real prices, it increased at a rate of growth of six per cent during the five decades. But the real rate of growth of per capita expenditure on education was just 3.8 per cent and in per pupil terms, the real growth was 2.4 per cent. He explained that in the 1950s a good beginning was made for education, the 1960s were the most favourable period and in the 80s the role of education in the reduction of poverty was recognised. The expenditure on education increased during the 1980s at a reasonably high rate of growth compared to the preceding decade.
He pointed out that there was a substantial increase in the allocation for education in the seventh, eighth and ninth five-year plans.
Prof. Tilak argued that the unwillingness of the Government to spend on education was not due to any serious economic constraints, but due to the misconception that education was not necessary for economic development. Privatisation of education had serious effects on various dimensions of education.
Earlier, the Malcolm Adiseshiah Award was presented to Prof. Tilak for his distinguished contributions to development studies. The award carried a citation and Rs. one lakh. The profile said that Prof. Tilak had established himself as a scholar of the first order in the economics of education.
The Chairman of the Madras Institute of Development Studies, M. Anandakrishnan, who presided, said the lecture subject was of great relevance and interest today as never before. There had been a sharp increase in people's desire to provide educational opportunities for their children, not only in the urban areas but also in rural areas. But the affordability of education was becoming sharply lower, he said.
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