A significant take away from the Union Budget 2021 for the Education and Training Sector is that the government has cut the sector’s funding allocation by about 6.13%. Despite the slash, the development of 15,000 Adarsh Vidyalayas, a new central university in Leh, a ‘glue grant’ for sounder synergy among institutions and a unified higher education regulator in the budget 2021-22 were put forth by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Slash in Rationalisation
The Ministry of Education comptrollers said that the cut is part of a “rationalisation” process based on the COVID-19 exigencies and that people must view the allocation vis-à-vis the revised budget estimates instead. Moreover, the ministry officials highlighted that the cut would not impact higher education institutions- they will now get funding directly from the National Research Foundation instead of the ministry’s budget.
"In nine cities, we will create formal umbrella structures so that these institutions can have better synergy, while also retaining their internal freedom. A Glue Grant will be arranged for this goal," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Lowering Stats Trend
The Economic Survey 2020-21 reported that spending on education as a percentage of GDP stagnated at 2.8% during 2014-2019 and increased to 3-3.5% in the 2019-21 period. Ideally, 6% of the GDP must be allocated to education, according to experts.
While the Department of School Education has been allocated Rs 54,873 crore, down from Rs 59,845 crore in the previous budget, the Department of Higher Education’s allocation has gone down to Rs 38,350 crore from Rs 39,466 crore. It must be noted that these cuts are being made at a time when educational institutions and consequently, the student community, continue to be deeply troubled by the pandemic’s aftermath.
Additions in Education
Special funding has also been reserved for another significant reform – credit-based education. An Academic Board of Credit will soon be set up for this reform. The government will also establish a new central university in the Union Territory of Ladakh. The Finance Minister announced that Rs 50,000 crore would be designated over the next five years for the National Research Foundation.
Schools will see more vital consolidation and quality upgrade under the Rs 4,684 crore Adarsh Vidyalaya scheme. Under the project, 15,000 schools, identified at block and district levels, will be upgraded to ‘exemplary’ levels. The Finance Minister also recommended setting up 100 new Sainik Schools.
Among the various projects, the Rashtriya Uchtar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) got a Rs 3,000 crore allocation in BE 2021-22 against Rs 166 crore revised estimate 2020-21. RUSA is a centrally-sponsored scheme that aims to advance institutes’ quality, promote self-autonomy, and ensure quality faculty in all higher educational institutions.