Home Education Budget 2022 and its address to the Education Sector

Budget 2022 and its address to the Education Sector

Students at a large hoped for a reduction in interest in education loans. Naturally, due to the pandemic, many students and their families are reeling under severe financial constrain. In the upcoming state budgets, the student community and the civil society at large need to play an active role to be heard and make their demands clear.

67
0

The Covid era has emphasized the need to improve our education system in every aspect. The budget however does not reflect this sentiment; it can be observed and deduced that society would have a negative impact despite its spending on the social and economic sector. The expectations of the student community and the society at large have been that the Union Budget 2022 would provide a major boost to the education sector and remedied the loss caused during the pandemic, but it has been a disappointment. Barring a few e-learning initiatives, there wasn’t much in the budget to address this issue. 

It is upsetting to note that despite the push in the digital education field, allocation under the digital India e-learning program, which includes the PM e-Vidya scheme, has been reduced to Rs 421.01 crore in 2022-23 from Rs 645.61 crore in 2021-22. Despite the government viewing it as a measure that would reduce the learning loss, the center allocating a lesser amount to its own cause is a matter of concern.

An initiative that has been taken One Class One TV channel under the PM e-Vidya scheme has been increased to 200 channels from the existing 20. It, however, needs to be understood that digital education can only complement in-person learning and can never be an alternative. TV has been seen as a source of information in communities where personalized digital gadgets have not reached yet but one needs to consider on how much potential it has to improve the quality of learning because of its one-way communication approach. 

This raises the question if this year’s Budget has been made after consultations with teachers working at the grassroots. Dr. Javed Alam (Centre for Budget & Governance Accountability) expressed his disappointment with the budget “a look at the social sectors shows a trend of pompous words in a budget speech but with little budgetary outlay to support these. For instance, in terms of the universalization of quality education, the One class One TV channel programme is to be expanded to 200 television channels. But the question remains, how does the budget propose to achieve this.”

There have been pleas and demands from civil society to focus on the need for access to quality education. Knowing the pathetic condition of schools in rural areas or Tier 2 cities. The budget has failed to address the long-lasting issues, which have been there before Covid and continue to exist. The government should allocate funds to open more schools as a large section of parents are unable to afford private schools fees and are struggling to find good public schools nearby.

Similarly, university students are finding it difficult to afford the high fees in various colleges. Sadat Khalifa (Research Scholar, JNU) conveyed his disbelief “With the increase in the number of students the schools, colleges and universities need to improve their infrastructure, improve the institution’s capacity, increase the number of classrooms for maintaining the quality of education, the center needs to think if its allocation of the budget and whether its share is enough?” 

It is necessary to note that India needs more teachers and professors. The national PTR (Pupil-Teacher Ratio) average for all schools was 26:1 in 2018/19 (UDISE) and ranged from 23:1 for elementary schools to 28:1 in composite schools. These PTRs look well within the norm suggested by the RTE [Right to Education] Act at the country level but does not indicate if the PTR is met at the school level. Among primary-only schools, 22% of them have PTRs greater than 30:1. On the whole, secondary and senior secondary schools have PTRs between 43:1 and 47:1. This year, the budgetary allocation for teacher training and adult education has drastically reduced from Rs 250 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 127 crore in 2022-23. 

Moreover, in 2011, the education budget was 11.4 percent of the total budget, which came down to a low of 10.2 percent in 2016-17. In 2020-21, it was 10.4 percent. This, however, does not include or address the many low-budget schools that have shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a shortage of funds, and no assistance has been provided to them. School and college transport services have also been affected, and transporters, as well as bus drivers and other staff, have suffered massive income losses. They, too, need financial assistance unfortunately no courtesy has been allocated towards them.

It has been noted that several of the Scholarships, fellowships schemes for Marginalised communities have been cut down. Despite the increase of major scholarship and fellowship schemes in the three ministries – social justice and empowerment, tribal affairs, and minority affairs the budget estimates for the schemes are still below 2020-21. For instance, the Maulana Azad Education Foundation, which works on the education of minority communities, has received just Rs 1 lakh, down from Rs 70 crore in the current year’s budget. 

Similarly, the budget for the Post-Matric Scholarship (PMS) scheme for students from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), offered by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has been reduced by over Rs 100 crore. The PMS for tribal students (ST) offered by the ministry of tribal affairs has seen a marginal increase. All major schemes offered by the Ministry of Minority Affairs have seen a marginal increase in allocations as compared to the budget in 2021-22. However, the budgets for two of these schemes are still lower than what they were in 2020-21.

The PMS for Minorities has seen an increase from Rs 468 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 515 crore in 2022-23. Conversely, it is still lower than the budget of Rs 535 crore in 2020-21. The Merit-cum-Means Scholarship for Professional and Technical courses (UG and PG) has seen an increase from Rs 325 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 365 crore in 2022-23. However, it is still lower than the budget of Rs 400 crore in 2020-21.

A discontentment among students was to find no relief on educational loan interest rates. Students at a large hoped for a reduction in interest in education loans. Naturally, due to the pandemic, many students and their families are reeling under severe financial constrain. No such announcement was mentioned in the budget speech. The student community needs to be at the forefront of the educational initiatives, right from awareness to advocacy, covering the entire spectrum of education and youth affairs. 

In the upcoming state budgets, the student community and the civil society at large need to play an active role to be heard and make their demands clear. Recognizing that India as a country has limited resources, we must prioritize where we spend them. The continuous low spending on education is going to play a factor that will further lead to India’s poor human development index (HDI) ranking at 131 out of 189 countries. 

LEAVE A REPLY