Indian education sector has been on the center stage during last few months. The government is trying to change/ challenge status quo, and the union budget holds a significant importance for Indian education sector.
To tackle mammoth challenges Indian education is facing with respect to enrolment, excellence and employability, the education sector was expecting announcements for structured education reforms. However, the Finance Minister’s budget speech sounded more like a manifesto than budget.
It’s an absolute pleasure to find education listed amongst the “9 pillars” of this year budget. However, budgetary allocation doesn’t create an image of education to be the top priorities. Reduction in education allocation during the last budget was widely criticised by all the segments.
In this year’s budget, the FM announced an allocation of Rs 72,394 crore compared to Rs 68,963 crore for last year, which is 4.9 per cent increase in the education budget.
In last year budget Rs 42,219.5 and Rs 26,855 crore was allocated for school sector and higher education sector respectively. In this budget, Rs 43,554 crore (approx 3 per cent increase) is allocated for school education and Rs 28,840 crore (approx 7.3 per cent increase) is allocated for higher education.
Increase in the education budget is a welcome step, however, if you consider inflation and GDP growth rate, education budget may come down to lower than the last year allocation (as % of GDP). Even after this increased allocation, education sector budget remains far from 6 per cent of the GDP, which is desired by the education sector.
Here, is the detailed analysis on each point of the Minister’s budgetary speech:
1) In his budget speech, Hon’ble finance minister said the government will strive to make 10 private and 10 public institutions become world class. This is a welcome step towards empowering select institutions of excellence to compete at the global level.
2) An announcement of the capital intensive long-term plan, on the line of Chinese 985 or Korean Brain 21, would have been more appropriate.
3) Digital repository of academic records is a timely move towards curbing forgeries in the educational credentials of job seekers.
4) The main highlight of the budget remains, it’s focus on skills development and entrepreneurship. Allocation of Rs 1,700 crore for 1500 multi-skill development centres, target of skilling 1 crore youth in the next 3 years under the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojna and allocation of Rs 500 crore for promoting entrepreneurship among SC/ST are welcome steps.
5) The Finance Minister also announced an allocation of Rs 1804 crore for skill development however, it is insufficient to gain advantages of demographic divide.
6) FM announced Digital Literacy Mission for rural India with target to cover 6 crore new households within next 3 years. If this scheme is implemented successfully, it can play an important role in increasing literacy in rural areas. The Government’s effective usage of technology for imparting education in the remote parts can be a game changer for a large country like India.
7) Opening 62 new Navodaya Vidyalayas to provide quality education will help in increasing enrolments in Navodaya Vidyalayas, however, deteriorating quality of existing government schools also requires government’s immediate attention and if the FM could have addressed it in the budget.
8) Creation of a Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) has been announced with initial fund of Rs 1,000 crore. This is exactly in sync with my budget expectations published in The Indian Express earlier.
– analysis by Kalpesh Banker, Edushine