Addressing educational disparity : using district level education development indices for equitable resource allocations in India
The challenge of development work in the social sector in India today is one of bridging huge disparities across regions of the country, gender and social groups. Unless national and state policies specifically target resources to address these disparities, achieving higher level outcomes in an inclusive manner, which is the real goal for human development in education and health, will be a distant dream. This paper takes up the case of the Indian government’s Elementary Education for All Mission to understand how this flagship program relates investments to spatial and social disparities. For identifying the most deprived districts in terms of educational inputs, outputs and overall development, the authors estimate district level education development indices for 2003-2004. The contribution of the largest investment program is measured by"per child allocations"and expenditures at the state and district levels for 2005-2006. An analysis of comparing the ratio of allocations to expenditures with the ratio of district level indices to sub-dimensional indices shows that there is an apparent disconnect between the"real investment needs"of the districts, reflected in their level of educational development and the actual allocations made on an annual basis. The analysis shows that although all districts received more funds for investing in elementary education programs, the most disadvantaged and needy districts received proportionately more funds, which helped these districts to bridge access and infrastructure gaps and appoint more teachers. Benchmarking sector development by spatial entities helps not only in monitoring the outcomes, but also in targeting planning and funding to reduce disparities.
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