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Published: Thursday, 09 February, 2017 10:30 AM
Education is one of the most important sectors in an economy which decides how the future generations will participate in the growth and development of a country. Though budget spending in the education sector is counted as social sector spending, since education is responsible for human capital formation, it may also be consider as capital expenditure. During the pre-independence years, one of the demands of Congress from the British government was to increase the education spending to 6% of GDP which even the successive Congress and other governments in independent India failed to realise. The current public sector spending on education is around 4% of the GDP.
The education sector can be classified into primary, secondary, higher education and skill education. The possible impact of budget on all categories is discussed below:
The quality and standard of primary education helps in deciding the quality of students going into the secondary and higher education sector. Thus, in a way primary education is the foundation over which edifice of higher education is built. For that matter, in his Budget 2017-18 speech, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitely called for focussing on quality of education after the universalization of primary education throughout the country.
In the upcoming financial year, the 10% of the spending in Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan (SSA) has been earmarked for quality related initiatives. The government also announced to establish 62 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in the uncovered districts of the country.
The quality of education in the government primary schools is a reason to worry. The mushrooming of expensive primary schools is one of the fallout of deteriorating quality in government schools. Since poor cannot afford the expensive private schools, their kids are left with no other option but to receive sub-quality education in government schools and in future, it is very tough for these underprivileged kids to compete the students of private education.
Thus, the government decision to improve the quality of education is a welcome step, its impact depends on the similar initiatives taken by the state governments because most primary schools in the rural areas are run by the state governments.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016-17, none of the India’s esteemed higher education institutes like IITs and IIMs featured in the top 200. Only two institutes viz Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay found place in top 400. These ranking tells about the reality of higher education in India.
In order to ensure world class teaching in the higher education institutes, the Budget 2016-17 announced enabling regulatory architecture to ten public and ten private institutions to emerge as world-class teaching and research Institutions.
Government will also set up Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) with an initial capital base of `INR1000 crores. The HEFA will be a not-for- profit organisation that will leverage funds from the market and supplement them withdonations and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. These funds will beused to finance improvement in infrastructure in top institutions.
The aforesaid measures taken by the government are welcome step in improving the quality of research innovation in higher education. Apart from this, Indian higher education institutes lack in transfer of technology from lab to the farm or industry. In agriculture research, one can surmise the level of research in India by the fact the research spending by Monsanto (a multinational seed company) is much higher than that of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), the centrally funded agriculture research institute.
As the role of technology is increasing day by day in our daily lives, most of the jobs in the future will require skills in contrast to our current labour force which is largely unskilled. In order to make the country’s youth skilled so as to make them suitable for all future jobs, the Budget 2017-18 announced setting up of 1500Multi Skill Training Institutes across the country. Government also decided to make Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) it more effective, transparent and beneficiary oriented.The PMKVY has set the target to provide skill training to 1 crore youth from 2016-2020.
Skill development is the most important aspect of the education because the kind of education imparted in our educational institutions does not provide the skills required for new jobs created. It is also most important tool in eliminating the educational employment. The skill development will also help India in encashing the demographic dividend.