The education sector receives an allocation of `68,728 crore for 2014-15, up from a revised budget estimate of `61,857 crore in 2013-14
New Delhi: From elementary schools to elite business schools, Arun Jaitley’s maiden budget covered the whole education sector from end to end. Overall, the sector received an allocation of ₹ 68,728 crore for 2014-15, up from a revised budget estimate of ₹ 61,857 crore in 2013-14. That amounts to an increase of 11.1%.
Of this year’s total allocation, the school sector got ₹ 51,828 crore, or 9.9% more than the revised budget estimate of 2013-14.
For higher education, the minister allocated ₹ 16,900 crore against ₹ 14,698 crore the previous year—up 14.98%. Of the total higher education budget, technical education, which comprises, among others, the Indian Institutes of technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), got the lion’s share of ₹ 7,138.97 crore.
“The country needs a large number of centres of higher learning which are world class," the minister said, a view which conflicts with the 12th Five-Year Plan document that had advocated a halt to government-funded higher education.
Jaitely proposed setting up five more IITs in Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and five IIMs in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra. The 10 institutes were allocated an initial sum of ₹ 500 crore for the current fiscal year.
Once completed, India will have a total of 18 IIMs and 21 IITs. The previous government had set up seven new IIMs and eight new IITs between 2008 and 2011, but most of these are operating from makeshift campuses and face challenges in terms of their quality of teaching and research.
The government also proposed to set up a Jai Prakash Narayan National Centre for Excellence in Humanities in Madhya Pradesh and five new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences and a sports university.
The finance minister described elementary education as “one of the major priorities of the government" and set apart ₹ 28,635 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme. This is part of the total school education allocations. In the 2013-14 budget estimate, the previous government had allocated ₹ 27,258 crore for the SSA.
The budget also advocated starting a school assessment programme and aimed to infuse new training tools and motivate teachers through another scheme called the Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya New Teachers Training Programme. Jaitley allocated ₹ 500 crore toward this initiative. The lack of trained teachers is considered a hurdle in improving schools and education outcomes.
The budget allocated ₹ 4,966 crore for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, a programme to universalize secondary education.
The finance minister pointed to deficient school infrastructure facilities, and proposed to provide toilets and drinking water in all girls’ schools to begin with. The budget also sought to give a push to technology integration in education and virtual classrooms.
While higher budget allocation for education is welcome, the budget lacked clarity on the question of private investment in education and did not outline a path of reform for education, said K.R. Sekar, who oversees the education practice at Deloitte Haskins & Sells Llp, a consulting company.
The budget had failed to provide fiscal incentives to attract private sector investment in education, he said, adding that it should also have given education the status of an infrastructure sector to enable it to access inexpensive domestic and foreign funds.