Home / Budget / News /  Education  budget  pegged  at   93,224 cr  but  no separate  funds  for  NEP

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman set aside 93,224.31 crore towards education in the budget for FY22, or around 6,087 crore less than the budget estimate (BE) for 2020-21. However, considering that the Centre had reduced its allocation for the education ministry by 14,222 crore in its revised budget estimates for FY21, the outlay this time was 9.5% higher.

The budget also announced the creation of higher education clusters in nine cities to improve coordination and collaboration among higher educational institutions. Of the total outlay for FY22, 38,350.65 crore was allocated for higher education, and 54,873.66 crore for school education.

Experts were of the view that barring a few good announcements, the fineprint has not been very encouraging, especially in a year when the Centre is looking to implement the national education policy (NEP).

“The budget has reduced education expenditure if one compares with the previous BE, which is not a positive sign at a time when the sector is reviving from massive disruption. You put heart and head into the NEP, but where is the allocation? Covid-19 has washed out almost a year and we have perhaps missed an opportunity to implement NEP 2021 effectively, accelerate change, and improve infra and other aspects of the sector," said Narayanan Ramaswamy, national leader, education and skill development, at consulting and auditing firm KPMG.

“The budget missed out on introducing any measure to support the adoption of NEP. It also missed out on bringing in methods, to fast-track digitization of education, that could have helped the country improve its gross enrolment ratio and bring in many more aspirants into the fold of higher education," said Shantanu Rooj, founder, Schoolguru Eduserve, an education startup.

The NEP roll-out requires massive investments, with the school education department telling the finance commission that it alone needs 1.14 trillion for a five-year period.

Likewise, the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), which is expected to accelerate funding, will find it difficult to do so, said Ramaswamy. The higher education commission is an old plan and India has not moved much in the past one year, he added. Budget 2021-22 has pegged 1 crore for HEFA, compared to 2,200 crore in 2020-21 BE. The move may impact disbursal of approved loans to educational institutions, said experts.

The proposed higher education clusters will be net positive in terms of better coordination, resource sharing, and collaboration for teaching-learning, as well as research and development, experts said.

IIT Delhi director V.Ramgopal Rao said the push for inter-institutional linkages and formation of city-based R&D clusters are a welcome step and allocation for the National Research Foundation as per the NEP provisions will boost the research ecosystem.

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