Budget 2019: The spending on education sector as a percentage of GDP has reduced under the Modi government in the past 5 years. The Ministry of Education, renamed as Ministry of Human Resource Development, failed to spend over Rs 4 lakh crore made available to them between 2014-15 to 2018-19, failing to meet budgetary targets.
The percentage of GDP expended on education has remained stagnant at around 3 per cent during the past few years. The expenditure on social infrastructure like education is a critical indicator of the commitment towards social infrastructure.
According to a Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report, the underspending by the NDA government was nearly 17 per cent in 2014-15, which was highest in last 10 years. In FY16, the ministry spent 97.34 per cent of the allocated amount, while it marginally increased to 99.48 per cent in FY17.
In FY18, the Ministry of Human Resource Development was able to spend more than its budgetary allocation. The ministry spent Rs 80,214.67 crore versus Rs 79,685.95 crore assigned to them, reporting a marginal increase of 0.66 per cent. In FY19, the ministry spent 98.37 per cent of the allocated amount.
The CMIE has found that the successive governments at the Centre have grossly underspent in the education sector as a percentage of GDP and government's budget. The report indicated that the allocation for education has expanded in monetary terms, but governments were constantly unable to utilise the funds ranging from 1.63 per cent to 16.79 per cent during 2009-10 to 2018-19. During 2009 to 2014, Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in the power at the Centre.
In the interim budget 2019-20, acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal announced a budgetary allocation of Rs 93,847.64 crore for the education sector, 10 per cent higher than Rs 85,010.29 crore allotted in the previous year. It included Rs 37,461.01 crore for higher educational institution and Rs 56,386.63 crore for school education.
Earlier this year, the government announced a 10 percent reservation for the economically weaker section (EWS) quota in the higher educational institutions which resulted in an increase of 25 per cent seats in the central universities. However, the budgetary allocation for these institutions didn't see any major changes from the last year.
As the government aims to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, there is need to gear up the education system to address the requirements of a technologically and digital advanced society.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar
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