The fifth session of the seventeenth Lok Sabha will commence on January 29 and is likely to conclude on April 8, while the Union Budget 2021-22 will be presented at 11 am on February 1.
This budget will be presented against the backdrop of the disruption in the various sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The education sector especially has seen unprecedented changes due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Thus there is a demand for relief measures by the stakeholders in the sector.
In the pandemic, education like many activities went online. However, thousands of students from the rural parts of India were left behind due to lack of access to the required digital infrastructure. Apart from the budget to cope up with the requirements of post-COVID-world, India needs spending to implement its New Education Policy.
How much does India spend on education?
Budget 2020-21: ₹ 99,300 crore; 3.2 percent of the total union budget
Budget 2019-20: ₹ 94,854 crore
Budget 2018-19: ₹ 85,010 crore
Budget 2017-18: ₹ 79,685.95 crore
Budget 2016-17: ₹ 72,394 crore
In all the budgets from 2016 to 2019, the budget percentage was in the range of 3 to 4.6 percent. One can see that India's expenditure on education has been increasing in the last five years. However, according to the government think tank Niti Aayog, India should increase the education expenditure to nearly 6 per cent of the GDP over the next two years.
India and the world
As per the latest 'World Talent ranking report' by IMD, although total public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP ranks at 35th, expenditure per student - as well as both measures of the quality of education (pupil-teacher ratio in primary and secondary school) - rank at 62nd in the list of 104 countries.
The guidance note from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released on Monday stated that as governments grapple with the costs of health and economic recovery, it is vital to protect education budgets. Investing in reskilling and upskilling of workers who lost jobs during the pandemic will play a critical role in accelerating the economic recovery by getting people back in labour markets, it added.
Thus, the discussion as to why India needs to increase allocation for Education sector is imperative.
(With inputs from agencies)