In a statement over the latest Union Budget, the MTB Chairman reacted that apparently, the budget document suggested that there was an increment from ₹104277.72 crores to ₹112899.47 crores, but the percentage of total expenditure fell from last year’s 2.64% to 2.51% in the current financial year.
Stating that Education is an important indicator in assessing the human development of a nation and to achieve sustainable goals of education, investment in human capital is necessary, the MTB Chairman has advocated that it is possible by allocating an important portion of public expenditure to the education sector. However, he commented that as per the Economic Survey 2022-23, the budgetary allocation for education as a percentage of total expenditure dropped over the past seven years, from 10.4% to 9.5% while the budgetary allocation for education as a share of total GDP, witnessed just a slight gain of 0.1% points, during the same period.
Citing the Kothari Commission (1964-66) which suggested a target of 6% of GDP as education expenditure, Mr. Farooq said that but the number never crossed 4.5% and in the last five years, the share of the Centre in educational spending never crossed the 0.5% mark of total the GDP. He added that the NEP 2020 also reaffirmed an aspiration of 6% expenditure, but in the subsequent year’s Budget Estimates, the Centre’s spending was yet again around 0.5%, leaving a major burden on the states. “Is the target of 6% of GDP a mere ‘Jumla’? ” he questioned.
Mr. Farooq advocated that ideally the actual needs required over 12% of the GDP should be spent on education, keeping in mind the expansion of the Indian economy, its population and the education system.
Calling the current Budget no different from earlier ones, Mr. Farooq said, “if one compares this figure with the budget of the last five financial years, the Union Ministry of Education’s share of total expenditure has fallen from 3.4% to 2.51% in the current budget. In Higher Education, the entire budget of ‘Scholarships for College and University Students’ and the ‘Special Scholarship Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir’ has been slashed in the budget.”
Mr. Farooq noted that allocation for one of the important schemes of the Department of Higher Education – Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), was cut from ₹2042.95 crore to ₹1500 crore, adding that which too was not fully utilised. He highlighted that the budget for school education declined from 2.03% of total expenditure in 2019-20 to 1.53 in the current Budget.
Talking about Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) which is major flagship programme of the Department of School Education that covers 14.89 lakh schools, 26.52 crore students and 95 lakh teachers as per UDISE Report 2021-22, Mr.Farooq said, “contrary to this increased need, the budget share for SSA is steadily declining, from 64.24% of the total school education budget in 2019-20 to 54.43% in the current budget.”
Terming the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, a part of the National Education Mission and the declining budget for this scheme from being a major portion of the school education budget to its current dwindled share, as an attack on Article 21A of the Constitution, the MTB Chairman said that it also showed a serious lack of concern towards need for a time-bound achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal of Education in India.
Expressing his grave concern over the massive decline of 38% in the budget of the Minorities from previous year, the MTB Chairman said that the budget of the reduction of the Education Empowerment of backward minorities would suffer from the budget slashing by the government. Observing that the budget of Pre-metric scholarship, which has witnessed 70% of slashing from previous BE and Merit cum means scholarship is slashed by 88%, he said that the recent UDISE and AISHE Reports suggested that the participation of Minorities in the education was a matter of concern and in that context the current budget would further hamper the educational aspirations of the Minority Communities in India.
Apart from these concerns, Mr. Farooq suggested that the education system required a significant percentage of the budget to be spent on Early Childhood Care, school education and higher education. “The education system as a whole consists of a number of schemes and policies which need serious financial assistance. The state of the current education system raises alarming questions of quality and equity, which unfortunately, the current Budget does not answer,” he added.
The Markazi Taleemi Board has put its long-standing following demands related to the education sector:
- Implement 6% of GDP benchmark in BE in the education sector as advised in NEP 2020.
- Increase the share of education up to 10% of GDP.
- Improve the quality of spending in the sector.
- Decentralize the process of budgeting, and implement the BE in the sector.
- Increase funding of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
- Increase funding of UGC.
- Increase the number of scholarships and fellowships for all the marginalized sections.
- Increase the share of the Central Government in educational spending.