ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In the Middle of Hope and Crisis

What Union Budget 2022–23 Offers for Education?

The fund allocations of the Union Budget 2022–23 to education are analysed in the context of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector and the implementation of the National Education Policy, 2020.

The Union Budget for 2022–23 was presented in Parliament with a total outlay of `39.45 lakh crore on 1 February 2022. The budget outlay for education was `1.04 lakh crore, which is 2.6% of the total budget. The union government has increased the total allocation on education for 2022–23 by `16,000 crore than the budget estimate of 2021–22, which was `93,224 crore. There is a general rapture that the budget for education has gone up significantly, which would help the sector meet its challenges. Is this the case? What does the increased outlay on education signify? In which level and components have more money been allocated, and why? How should we interpret the budget figures for education when the state is geared towards implementing the targets set in the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020? More importantly, is the current outlay in education going to meet the new crisis the education sector is facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic? These are some of the questions that are still not clear to many, if not all. This article aims to address some of these concerns using the information from the Union Budget 2022–23 for education and the latest secondary data on public funding for education using economic surveys and other secondary data sources.

For a long time, the argument has been to increase the public funding for education, producing a wide set of externalities for the economy and society. Edu­cation, widely considered as a public good, contributes significantly to economic growth, reducing poverty and ine­qualities, cultural advancement, poli­tical maturity, strengthening civil society, social progress and human development (Tilak 2018). Recognising the critical role of education for India’s socio-economic progress, the education commission (1964–66) recommended allocating 6% of the national income to education. However, this target has not been achi­eved so far as India currently spends less than 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, the NEP 2020 terms it as unfortunate and unequivocally endorses and envisions a substantial inc­rease in public investment in education to reach the target of 6% of GDP at the earliest. The policy considers the public investment in education as extremely critical for achieving the high-quality and equitable public education system that is truly needed for India’s future economic, social, cultural, intellectual, and technological progress and growth. Moreover, the NEP 2020 has taken several bold moves that need huge public investment in education. Some of the targets are: universalisation of school education, that is, achieving 100% gross enrolment ratio (GER) in preschool to secondary level by 2030, achieving 50% GER in higher education by 2035, provide vocational education to 50% of learners by 2025, to name a few. In short, we keep emphasising allocation of more public money for education since independence, but in practice, it is far from reality.

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Updated On : 19th Jun, 2022
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