Skip to main content

Total education budget down by 6% amidst 'fillip' to privatisation, commercialisation

Counterview Desk 

The Union budget 2021-22 cannot fulfil the expectation of Right to Education (RTE) of children and address the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic, in view of the fact that allocations for total education (Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan) have been reduced by by 6% compared to the last financial year, Ambarish Rai, national convenor, RTE Forum, said in a media communique.
Government’s shrinking responsibility and meagre allocation will lead education towards adverse situation affecting the future of millions of children. It will encourage privatisation and commercialisation making road to profit-making private players”, he added.
According to Rai, “Mere mention of 15,000 exemplar schools to be created in line with New Education Policy (NEP) is not enough. The allocations are nowhere close to the required amount needed to undo the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure every child return to school. Online courses do not guarantee quality education; rather it widens the inequality, as evident over the last 10 months.”

Text:

Union Budget 2021-22 comes as a big disappointment as it fails to allocate the required amount to undo the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget, yet again, failed to provide allocation of 6% of GDP on education, as promised in the National Education Policy 2020.
It is strange that the budget allocated for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan for 2021-22 is only INR 31,050 crore, far less than the budget allocated for 2019-20 which was INR 36,400 crore and also less than the Actual Expenditure of 2019-20 which was INR 32,376.52 crore. 
It is also significantly less than the Budget Estimate of the previous year allocated for overall School Education Budget under National Education Mission (Samgra Shiksha Abhiyan and Teacher Training & Adult Education). This is only INR 31, 300 Crore (2021-22) as compared to INR 38, 860/- allocated in 2020-21.
Instead of increasing allocations to strengthen an Inclusive Public Education System, the government is paving the way for privatisation and PPP model in education. This neglect will adversely impact children, particularly those from poor, marginalised communities and also girls, adding to the already increasing number of Out of school children in India. The commitment to universalize secondary education (SDG Goal 4) by 2030 will also remain a distant dream.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extended school closures has led to a loss of learning days, during this time, children from marginalised communities unable to access online education were involved in household chores and the possibility of these children dropping out of the education system looms large.
In such a situation, a mere mention of 15,000 exemplar schools to be created in line with NEP is not enough. There was no mention of operationalisation of the Gender Inclusion Fund (promised in NEP 2020) which is essential given the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on girls. Instead, funds for the National Scheme for Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education got reduced to merely Rs 1 crore from Rs 110 crore last year.
During her speech, Finance Minister Narmala Sitharaman didn’t even mention about millions of children who were deprived of education as they were unable to access online learning, nor did she mention about ensuring low and no-technology options, for those deprived. 
Finance Minister Narmala Sitharaman didn’t even mention about millions of children who were deprived of education as they were unable to access online learning
If the government intends to revive public education and universalise school education then it must extend the Right to Education Act 2009, and ensure free and compulsory education to all children from pre-primary to class 12 (3-18 years), it would have focused its attention on ensuring adequate allocation of budget along with clear roadmap for strengthening the public education system, he added.
The Union budget should have focused on the exceptional challenges arising out of Covid-19 pandemic and made necessary allocations to:
  1. ensure safe school operations and re-opening of schools;
  2. support measures for recovering all marginalized students’ learning loss and socio-emotional impact during educational disruption;
  3. ensure (re)enrolment and targeted support for learners who are at risk of not returning to school, especially, dalits, adivasis, girls, those living in poverty and persons with disabilities;
  4. in view of evidence of the existence of a digital divide, it would be critical to ensure that low and no-technology options are prioritized over the introduction of digital modes of instruction.
The budget is nowhere close to expectations and the government has failed to take in cognizance that investment in education will boost the economic growth of the country.

Comments

TRENDING

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.