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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Delhi allocates 25% budget to education. Where do the other states stand?

Delhi has kept its promise. They had contested the last election with a promise to invest more in education and health and they have. Let's see if other states follow.

The Delhi government has allocated Rs 16,377 crore for education. This is one-fourth of the entire budget of Rs 69,000 crore. This is unprecedented in a budget that comes after a year like 2020. Every state and even the Union Budget has reduced its allocation for education this year and that is understandable — there is a need to push other sectors out of the slump they have been in for the past year. But Delhi has kept its promise. They had contested the last election with a promise to invest more in education and health and they have. Delhi allocates 25% budget to education. Where do the other states stand?

“When I presented the Budget last year, I didn’t know we would be going through a pandemic. The lockdown, and the effect it had on businesses, affected the work done,” said Manish Sisodia, the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister. “People went beyond their call of duty during the pandemic. They fulfilled their core responsibilities along with others,” he added.

Sisodia added that education needs to be a mass movement in Delhi. “Rs 16377 crores will be allocated in the sphere of education which will amount to almost 1/4th of the entire Budget. Under this budget, the Delhi government plans to open 100 schools of excellence. Delhi will start a virtual model school — a unique initiative,” said the Deputy CM. “Delhi will also have a new Delhi Law University. Teaching training will also be given special attention in this budget,” he said.

Along with a law university, the capital city will also get a dedicated university for skills and entrepreneurship — the work for Delhi Skills and Entrepreneurship University has already started. “In the field of higher and technical education, the Delhi Skills and Entrepreneurship University has started its work. Sports University will also initiate its activities this year. The Delhi government is also preparing to open a New Delhi Law University for students wishing to study law in the future. This will provide new opportunities to students wishing to make a career in the field of law,” the Finance Minister said.

Sisodia said that Delhi has seen an increase of 36.42 per cent in the number of higher education seats available and a humungous increase of 66.44 per cent in technical education. “The new campus of Ambedkar University in Dhirpur and Rohini would be completed by September 2023 which shall increase the intake capacity of students by 8500,” he added.

The government will also concentrate on improving spoken English of school students.”In addition to focus on spoken English, there will also be a focus on body language and personal development. About 5 to 6 lakh students are expected to benefit under this scheme through regular classroom education and self-learning modules in a period of three months,” he said.

In order to properly implement the National Education Policy 2020, Sisodia said that it is pertinent that the Delhi School Education Act 1973 and the Delhi University Act 1922 be changed — while one law is 50 years old the later is soon completing a century. “Both these laws are not aligned to the ethos of the new education policy. We have requested the Central government to revise the provisions of the Delhi University Act and have also started working on the New Delhi School Education Act for Delhi,” he added. Delhi allocates 25% budget to education. Where do the other states stand?

Where do the other states stand?

Karnataka announced its budget this month as well. The state allocated Rs 29,688 crore for the education sector. While this seems to be a bigger number, it is Rs 80 crore less than what was allocated the last financial year. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said that adopting technology in education will be a priority and Rs 50 crore has been allocated for this in 430 government colleges, 14 government engineering colleges and 87 government polytechnic colleges. The government has also initiated the process of using tech in school education as well.

Tamil Nadu also announced its interim budget last month. For the Higher Education department, there has been a jump of 8.4 per cent in allocation — the sector was allocated Rs 5,478.19 crore as compared to last year’s Rs 5,052.84 crore. The school education department was allocated Rs 34,181.73 crore this year. “The gross enrolment ratio in Tamil Nadu is currently at 49 per cent and almost twice the national average. The Gender Parity Index of 0.97 in 2018-19 also shows that equitable access of women has been ensured,” the budget document read. Tamil Nadu is due for elections on April 6, 2021.

Maharashtra is another state to have come up with its budget recently. The state allocated Rs 1391 crore for higher and technical education. The government has put emphasis on women power this year — the theme was also nari shakti (women power) — and has made education for girls free till Class 12. There was no specific allocation for the school education department.

Delhi allocates 25% budget to education: Where do the other states stand?
Manish Sisodia presenting the Budget | Pic: PTI

How much do they spend in general?

A study by Azim Premji University called State of Working India 2019 Report gives us a fair idea about this issue. the study found that Bihar allocates around 6.8 per cent of its State Domestic Product (SDP) to education, while Gujarat scores lowest on this front with just 1.8 per cent of its SDP being spent on education. “West Bengal and Orissa are states which have been able to achieve relatively high learning outcomes with only moderate spending per student. Recall that these two states also featured as having better than average health outcomes given lower than average NSDP,” said the study.

The Indian government has been criticised time and again for allocating only about three to four per cent of the GDP for education. Experts say that the right amount for a developing country like India would be allocating 6 per cent of its GDP for education. In a situation like this, it is commendable for Delhi to allocated 25 per cent of its budget towards education. This is in line with what Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP) had promised during the election campaign. And it is pertinent to mention that this was the first time in decades that education had been made a major issue in an election. The other governments had followed suit and the central government has been talking about the NEP 2020 more than any other issue over the past year. This definitely paints a better picture for the future of India.

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