India: Education not a priority in the Budget 2012-13

0
238

March 17, 2012

Despite 2012-13 being the first year of the 12th Five Year Plan, there seems to be hardly any focus on prioritising public provisioning for education by the Union Government. There has been an absence of critical scrutiny with regard to the implementation of the RTE Act as is clear from the scant increases made in the programme operationalizing the Act, i.e. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The budget largely disappoints with its policy prescription.

March 17, 2012

Despite 2012-13 being the first year of the 12th Five Year Plan, there seems to be hardly any focus on prioritising public provisioning for education by the Union Government. There has been an absence of critical scrutiny with regard to the implementation of the RTE Act as is clear from the scant increases made in the programme operationalizing the Act, i.e. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The budget largely disappoints with its policy prescription.

The present total government spending (Centre and States combined) on education accounts for about 3.7 % of GDP (as of 2009-10), which is way below the benchmark of 6 % of GDP that had been recommended more than 40 years ago. In this regard, the Union Government has not taken adequate measures towards increasing the country’s total budgetary spending on education significantly. For education, the outlays in Union Budget 2012-13 have gone up very marginally from 4.65 % as a proportion of the total Union Budget (in 2011-12 RE) to 4.97 % in 2012-13 BE. As a share of the GDP, the allocations have registered a slight hike from 0.69 % of the total budget (in 2011-12 RE) to 0.73 % in 2012-13 BE.

At the elementary level, it is crucial to ensure that financial provisions for implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 is adequate. The Union Government outlays for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for universalising quality elementary education have been insignificant. From Rs 21000 crore in 2011-12 RE, the outlays have been stepped up to Rs 25555 crore in 2012-13 BE. A worthwhile point relates to the slight decline in the reliance on education cess to finance elementary education sector. From 43 % in 2011-12 RE, the cess share in financing elementary education has gone to 41.6 %.

Other critical sub-sectors, such as secondary education, higher and technical education have not been adequately stepped up in this year’s Budget. For Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), the outlays have gone from Rs 2423 crore in 2011-12 RE to Rs 3124 crore in 2012-13 BE. For University Grants Commission (UGC), the allocations in this year’s budget do not reflect the government’s stated commitments to adequately finance higher education. From Rs 8927 crore in 2011-12 RE, it has gone to Rs 10350 crore in 2012-13 BE.

Evidence from other countries clearly shows that in the interest of strong and vibrant citizens, the financing of education is primarily the government’s responsibility and cannot be left to market forces. In this context, the increasing trend of private sector participation in education sector through different modes, e.g., Public Private Partnership (PPP) and vouchers, needs to be reviewed. Clearly, education seems to have been put in the back-burner by the Union government although ‘inclusive’ growth sans addressing education deficits might not go a long way.


Courtesy: econimictimes