Government expenditure on education, as a percentage of the GDP, has been decreasing consistently even though public investment in social infrastructure is considered critical to economic progress.
The Economic Survey of the year 2017-18 released this week shows that the states and the Union government together have been investing less than 3 per cent of the country’s GDP in education or, in the survey’s definition, in education, sports, arts and culture.
Six years ago, that is in 2012-13, education expenditure was 3.1% of the GDP. It fell in 2014-15 to 2.8% and registered a further drop to 2.4% in 2015-16. Although, there have been some signs of recovery since 2016-17 (2.6%), expenditure on education hasn’t been restored to the 2012-13 level, let alone be anywhere close to the government aim of touching 6% of GDP.
The Economic Survey carries a tacit acknowledgment of the the unimpressive investment in social infrastructure. “Being a developing economy, there is not enough fiscal space to increase the expenditure on critical social infrastructure like education and health in India. However, given the limited resources, the Government has consistently prioritized strengthening the educational and health profile of the population,” the survey states.