Truth behind education funds allocation

Of late a debate has been going on as to whether the Ministry of Human Resource Development has brought down the allocation to education or it has been increased. What are the facts? Tehelka tries to find out. On December 9, 2019, the MHRD came out with a release denying that the allocation to education under MHRD (School Education & Literacy and Higher Education Departments) only is decreasing along with funds allocated for Education under Budget of other Departments. The MHRD claimed that the budget provided by the Centre through MHRD and other Departments and Ministries for education and by the States and UTs for education in both absolute terms and as percentage of GDP is increasing every year. Table below may be referred in this regard.

The MHRD claimed that expenditure on education has been increasing over the years in both absolute terms as well as in percentage of GDP. It is also mentioned that Government of India has set up Higher Education Financing Agency in 2017 to finance infrastructure development in Kendriya Vidalayas, Navodayas, AIIMS, besides Higher Education Institutions.

During 2017-18, 2168.26 crore worth projects were approved under HEFA, and during 2018-19 29411.99 crore worth projects have been approved under HEFA. The MHRD said that it is also wrong to say that centre spends 10 per cent while states spend 90 per cent on education. As per Analysis of Budgeted Expenditure on Education, 2017-18, the Centre spends around 23 per cent while States and UTs spend 77 per cent of their total revenue expenditure on education.

Question mark

Indeed in Budget 2019, there was a minor increase in terms of allocation of funds. However, most of this fund was dedicated to school-level institutes with a boost of 20 per cent funds for the National Education Mission. The total grants for the NEM stood at 38,572 crore. However, with a decline in funding for the newly constituted Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), experts were left disappointed. Since the government has established HEFA it has asked the central universities, IITs and IIMs to have loans from the agency instead of having grants. The decline for HEFA is by 24 per cent; this would mean that the institutes would have to look for other sources of income.

The All-India Survey of Higher Education 2018-19 also points out two major challenges-one, the higher education infrastructure is skewed in favour of less than 10 per cent of the districts, which have over 30 per cent of all colleges in the country. Most of these districts are either in south or west India. Not a single district from the country’s east or northeast has made it to the list of top 10 districts. The second is representation of disadvantaged classes in higher education. The scheduled caste (SC) enrolment in 2018-19 fell short of the mandated quota of 15 per cent, as did scheduled tribe (ST) enrolment.

Experts opine that if the government aims at 8 per cent economic growth, it will have to increase the spending on education. India is ranked much lower in the human development index (HDI) which is an indicator of the social sector, especially education, employment etc.

The share of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a national programme for universal elementary education, in the total allocation dropped to 29 per cent in 2017-18 from 31 per cent in 2016-17, which was two per cent less than the previous year, as per an analysis by New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR).

Funds released for Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan — an integrated national programme for secondary schools started decreasing since last four years. For instance tie decline was from 78 per cent in 2015-16 to 54 per cent in 2016-17 showed the CPR study. Almost 40 per cent of India’s population comprises children. However, over allocation for children is just 3.25 per cent.