From research fellowships to teacher training, finance minister Arun Jaitley made a lot of announcements related to the education sector in this year’s budget speech. However, the big question is: has there been enough allocation for schemes which will actualise what he said during the budget session? The answer lies in looking at the schemes which deal with what the finance minister spoke about individually to understand the government’s intention of spending in those areas. The has also been a decrease in the percentage of money allocated for education compared to last year. From 3.7%, it has come down to 3.4%.
Arun Jaitley’s claim of increasing digitisation in the education sector is on shaky grounds, whereas, when it comes to teachers’ training, things look more promising.
Talking about increasing digitisation in the education sector, Jaitley had said, “Technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education. We propose to increase the digital intensity in education and move from blackboard to digital board.”
The actual budget, however, has seen massive cuts in schemes focussed on the initiative. A case in point being the budget for e-learning in higher education, which has been slashed by र41 crore. Earlier, र497 crore were allotted but now it has been reduced to र456 crore.
E-shodh Sindhu, a scheme meant to provide access to ‘e-resources to universities, colleges and centrally funded technical institutions’ has also seen a fund cut of र60 crore. The fund allocated for the scheme in this financial year is र180 crore.
When it comes to areas like teacher training, fund allocation has seen an increase suggesting government’s intent on working seriously in this area. There has been an increase in the funds allocated for the ‘Improvement in Salary Scale of University and College Teachers’ from र700 crore to र950 crore.
The total budget for teachers training and adult education under the Department of School Education and Literacy has also seen a slight increase from र840.77 crore (as per revised estimate) to र870.70 crore.
There has been an increase in the budget of the strengthening of teachers training institution from र480 crore to र550 crore.
Other initiatives the government plans to work on include setting up of two new School of Planning and Architecture, Eklavya Model Residential Schools in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal people and an investment of र1 lakh crore in the next four years to upgrade the education infrastructure in the country.