Isn’t this a pathetic and deplorable that 50 percent of population in the country, aged below 25 years of age group, gets less than 3.3 percent education share in Annual Budget allocation? Why year after year ‘exam warriors’ of our Prime Minister being systemically alienated from the country’s mainstream budget share? Isn’t this a weird and bizarre that even in this popular election budget of BJP there was no major announcement for education sector from Mr. Piyush Goyal in Parliament on 1st of February? Is it so because Mr. Goyal was aware that investment in education sector does not have any short-term return or was it because these 30 crores and more children do not have any potential political voice to threat the government’s existence? Probably, both the reasons hold true for leaving education sector in such disarray.
This year, government has allocated Rs 93,848 crore for education sector, which is over Rs 10,000 crore hike from the revised estimate of Rs 83,626 of 2018-19. Despite the hike, in percentage terms the share of education sector in the total budget allocation has declined from 3.7 percent to 3.3 percent. The slide in education budget is gradual for the last five years since this government came to power in 1914-15. The share in budget spending has come down from 6.15 percent in 2014-15 to 3.7 percent in 2017-18. This continued further to 3.3 percent in 2019.
Education Sector spending against the total budget outlay:
|Year||HRD Ministry Budget (Rs. bn)||Total Central Budget (Rs. bn)||Gross National Income (Rs. bn)||(% of GNI)||(% of central budget)|
Source – Centre for Policy Research (CPR)
The question may be asked then, how government dare to take risk by reducing the budget allocation in demographically important education sector? Probably this was so because government was aware that people’s confidence in public education system is at the lowest and migration from public to private is all time high. This awareness of government has alienated public education more systematically than it has ever been. Although Prime Minister has tried to reach out to students many times through his ‘Man Ki Baat’ but always it looked as if he was addressing more to the privileged section of students belonging to central schools, Navodaya Vidyalayas and other schools affiliated to CBSE Board. Never ever he honestly tried to reach out to those under privileged and vulnerable students of State affiliated Boards who are struggling hard to continue in the government education system. It is often argued in the budget speeches that government is doing substantially good work to retain students by providing larger budgetary allocation in providing free mid-day meal, free school uniform, free text-books, scholarships etc. But I am not sure when these budget masters will get convinced that students do not go to school for freebies, they just need good quality education in schools? Mr. Prime Minister need to understand that his exam warriors need quality learning in the classroom and only then his ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ may become meaningful.