Business World | 18 January 2017
Efficient Utilisation Of Education Budget Is A Priority
With the Union Budget 2017 around the corner, every industry awaits what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveils this year. While last year was a "looking good" budget, this year every industry expects some serious depth in the allocation of budget, especially the education sector.
BW Businessworld on January 17 held an education pre-budget roundtable with researchers and thinkers to understand educational sector expectations from the budget. Yamini Aiyar, director of Accountability Initiatives, Shobha Mishra Ghosh, senior director of FICCI, and Amit Chandra, director of policy research at the Centre for Civil Society, participated in the discussion.
Expecting a larger focus on the learning quality this budget, Yamini Aiyar said, "Owing to the not-much-changed track record over the last three years, I have no expectations from the budget. Finance Ministry's plan to increase allocation by 12% for human resource is known to all. However, it's assuring that this government has surpassed the first phase of 'getting children to school' and is talking about improving learning quality."
On the issue of higher tax pays, Yamini added, "I doubt education is going to benefit from the higher tax pays. There are competing claims and limited resources. However, I am not complaining about it, since, thus far, there has been a serious concern in the expenditure management. In a good year, the expenditure would go up to 82% of the budget."
Shobha Mishra Ghosh emphasized on the higher education. Ghosh said: "The last year's fund of 100 crore for setting up top 20 universities haven't seen much light of the day."
She added, "Contrary to the world moving towards fourth industrial revolution, Indian education system is limited to deal with the second one. A whole lot of reforms are required along with the budget. Scholarships should be on the rise. India foresees about 2 crores children joining education in the next 15 years. A minimum scholarship assumption of INR 20,000 for each child sums up to more than ten thousand crores. Apart from that, additional budgets are required to get institutions digitally networked, research and innovation."
Amit believed, "I don't really see much of a game changer in fund allocation. However, a changed method is required in aligning the budget expenditure bringing in more accountability and efficiency in the utilization."
The session on 'Dear Finance Minister', Yamini commented, "It is ironic that a government that came riding on a plank of aspirations and bold steps have been unable to take the same for the foundational issue of education. Whether in a public or private institution, children in India are not acquiring the foundational skills. In a private setup, it is a bigger crime since parents are having to pay from their pocket. The focus of this budget should be emphasized on developing foundational skills that will change the pace of India."
"I have three wishes. Firstly, autonomy for institutions whether public or private. Institutions should be given freedom to compete on public funds basis their capability and performance. Secondly, build capacity and allot money to students. Students should be deciding which institution they would want to study. This in turn would bring the competitiveness among the institutions. Lastly, technology in getting institutions networked and digitally enable students and teachers", concluded Shobha."