Updated: February 2, 2022 4:57:21 am
In a Budget expected to look into reversing Covid-induced learning losses and implementing key proposals of the New Education Policy announced nearly two years ago, overall financial allocation for 2022-23 has not increased much.
While it went up from Rs 93,224 crore (budget estimate) in 2021-22 to Rs 1.04 lakh crore, as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday, the increase does not appear as substantial when seen against Rs 99,311 crore earmarked in 2020-21.
In her Budget speech, Sitharaman emphasised on strengthening digital modes of learning to aid supplementary teaching and proposed to establish a digital university. But allocation under the Digital India e-learning component was reduced to Rs 421 crore — from Rs 645 crore in 2021-22.
The revised estimate for 2021-22 was Rs 367 crore.
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The rise in overall allocation owes mainly to the jump in amount earmarked for samagra shiksha (school education sector) — from Rs 31,050 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 37,383 crore in 2022-23. But even after the increase, allocation under this head is marginally more than 2019-20 (Rs 36,322 crore).
“Due to the pandemic-induced closure of schools, our children, particularly in rural areas and those from SC and ST communities and other weaker sections, have lost almost two years of formal education,” Sitharaman said. “Mostly these are children in government schools. We recognise the need to impart supplementary training and build resilient mechanisms for delivery.”
She said the “one class-one channel” initiative under PM e-VIDYA, launched in May 2020, will be scaled up from 12 channels to 200 channels to enable all states to provide supplementary education in regional languages to children for classes I to XII. The channels, where recorded lectures shot in NCERT campus are telecast, are currently available on Doordarshan’s free dish and some private DTH platforms.
Sitharaman said a digital university will be established to provide students across the country access to “universal education with personalised experience”. The content in it will be available in all Indian languages, and the university will come up under a “hub and spoke model”, she said.
This essentially refers to a network design in which a centrally located network hub will branch out to connect to remotely located network pockets, also called hubs. It appeared to be a repackaged version of the proposal in 2020 Budget to “start a degree-level full-fledged online education programme by institutions who are ranked within top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking framework”.
The mid-day meal scheme, which was rebranded as PM-Poshan last year, also saw a drop in Central allocation from Rs 11,500 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 10,233 crore. The revised allocation for 2021-22 was also Rs 10,233 crore, indicating that the total fund earmarked for the scheme could not be spent during the ongoing financial year amid long closures of schools.
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