Pune: City-based educationists have said the Central government should look at the education sector as an investment sector for better future, and not as a profit-making one, while allocating the budget for education.
Interestingly, last year, 3.17 per cent budget allocations out of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had disappointed experts in the field. Over the past few years, education expenditure has been on the decline. In context to this, Sakal Times spoke to educationists about expectations from Thursday’s budget.
Educationists have raised concern over the decline in the spending for education and said that more allocations are required.
Nihal Kirnalli, education and social activist, said, “The Kothari Education Commission from 1964-66, set up to study the Indian education system, recommended allocation of at least 6 per cent budget towards the education sector. Yet, after so many years, the government managed 3.711 per cent of the budget in 2017-18. The education sector should see a good allocation this year of at least 6 per cent, if not more.”
He said that comparing the Union budget to a specific Delhi budget may be wrong, though the Delhi government allocated a whopping 24 per cent of the budget towards education. The government should at least show some intention towards improving the education system, he said.
“The increase in GDP is not reflecting in the budget allocation towards education sector. In 1999, 4.4 per cent of total GDP was diverted towards education, and it was just 3.71 per cent in 2017. The question remains, is India really putting a step forward, as far as the education system is concerned?” asked Kirnalli.
“It seems the government has detached itself from the education sector. Every developed nation dedicates at least 5 per cent of the GDP for education. Only in India, a small percentage has been allotted. The more you invest here, the more the nation will get in terms of good manpower and better resources to grow stronger,” said social and education activist, Vivek Velankar.
“The government gives away Rs 1,000 crore for Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE), which is a nominal amount. Maharashtra alone needs at least Rs 300-400 crore to run RTE activities in schools. Similarly, colleges fail to keep up with providing facilities for economically backward class (EBC) scholarships due to lack of funds from the government. This needs to be improved, for which the budget should be increased,” said Velankar.
Geeta Mahashabde, Director, Universal Active Math Programme, Navnirmiti, said more funds need to be fixed for education. “For the first time now, ‘good quality education’ has been mentioned under RTE Act. Under this, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that students receive better quality education, for which better infrastructure needs to be built. For example, Zilla Parishad spends on electricity bills of schools under its jurisdiction.
However, because they have to pay the commercial rates it burdens them. Due to this, many schools have lost electricity connections. The Centre has been emphasising that schools and colleges must update their data online. In order to support digitalisation in educational institutions, the government should consider improving their financial support, so that better appointments can be made,” said Mahashabde.