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Here’s How We Fare In Comparison To Some Other Countries In Spending On Education

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By Krishangi Singh:

Education is something that most of us who are reading this, have just ‘had’. We haven’t had to give a second thought regarding whether we will be ‘able’ to go to school or not. However, 80 million children are not completing the full cycle of elementary education, while eight million are out of school over a period of years (source). They may or may not find an employment, and they will never reach their true potential.

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Photo Credit

Each financial year, when our budget is released, we hear some big numbers depicting the financial investment by our government to promote education in basic blocks and villages. Then where does all that money go? Why is our country struggling to achieve a decent literacy rate, let alone upper primary and secondary education levels?

With the world’s largest youth population, India has the great challenge to not only get children to school but to also provide them worthwhile education. The price of such education is significantly higher than current costs and it is an investment our government does not seem to be willing to make.

When viewed in isolation, public investment in education sounds to be a staggeringly huge number. However, when viewed in relation to our population’s need and in comparison to what other countries’ are investing, the number is miserable.

The increase in education budget for the current fiscal year was a mere 4.3%. With rising global inflation, the investments in public welfare sectors need proportionate increment. As we can see in the graph, the increment in education has been extremely low if viewed in relation to rising global costs.

India’s investment in education sector seems even more deplorable when viewed in juxtaposition with other countries.

While countries like Malaysia, Netherlands and U.S.A. spend above 5% of their GDP on public investment in education sector, India suffices with a meagre 3.2%.

Our country needs major investments not only to open new educational institutions but too promote quality education as well.

India was the only BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) nation in 2012 that did not have even one university among the top 200 on the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) list, which is the most reputed global ranking of institutes for higher education. Even the high-profile institutions like IITs and IIMs, which are a part of the fantasy of many middle class households, failed to match international standards of education excellence.

India’s public expenditure on higher education, which is currently availed by only 10% of school students, is at an extreme low of 0.6% of the GDP. USA invests 2.7% of its national GDP on higher education alone to support its world-class higher education system.

It is absurd to expect RTE, or any other policy for that matter, to work effectively when there is not enough monetary allocation for it. It’s as if the government is expecting a structure to construct itself out of thin air by merely providing a blueprint for it.

We are about to end the fifth year of RTE and the current investment in education sector is not particularly high in accordance to the national-level free and compulsory education motto of the Act. This stage certainly requires us to introspect on how a well-planned education act has failed to achieve its full momentum due to lack of economic investment.

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

This year’s military budget saw an increase of around 12.5 percent from the last year (source). Wouldn’t it be a smarter investment to provide such financial increment to the weapon of education?

You must be to comment.
  1. Cees Tompot

    And this is the amount according to the official figures. How much less evaporates before it can serve its aims? And than what quality are we talking about? Learning facts or learning to think?

  2. Deva

    It is true that education sector in India needs revamping. The author talks about elementary school and how children are dropping out.
    The lack of education is apparent through the shabbiness of this article, based on poor analysis.
    1) IITs are among top 50 in TECHNOLOGY list of SAME QS RANKINGS. Indian Institute of TECHNOLOGY, not university.
    2) If IITs had more foreign students (not exchange students) and faculties, more points would be awarded and they could be in top 10. Subsidized education is provided in IITs for students, thus objective is to accommodate as many INDIANS as possible and not to score points in some ranking list by gifting them to foreigners.
    3) Do not compare higher education, give statistics for elementary education from countries mentioned. Investment in a cryogenic laboratory at some IIT will not stop a daily wage labourer’s daughter from dropping out of school.
    4) You know what? Defence is a major source of income, education and skill for lakhs of people. Sadly, the author wants to deprive youth from army schools and deprive jobs in army and the industries manufacturing for army.

    What would have helped is a well researched article with an analysis based on facts not emotions or directives from bosses.
    A quote from somewhere does not help in the cause. Rather, an investigation into the deficiencies would have helped in identifying the problem of dropouts.

  3. krishna

    Please don’t talk about Quality education in a country which divides uson the basis of our castes for vote bank politics. BTW does USA has reservation ?

  4. Eduall

    Education plays the major role in our life,so be proud to spending money for education,and we should reach the education to poor people who are not able to study…

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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