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

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Punjab’s Education Budget (1980–2022)

A Reality Check

Punjab’s education budget, over the last 42 years (1980–2022), was less than the recommended norms and requirements and, hence, inadequate. It also experienced slower growth in per capita and real terms, and negligible share of spending on capital account, with critical imbalances and rigidities. The fundamental approach towards resource allocation to education sector, across the tenures of both of the political parties—the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal—did not show any significant difference. The article closely examines the education budget over four decades and highlights some of its implications.

The Indian Constitution, since its inception, very aptly specifies the role of the state in education. The establishment of First Education Commission (1964–66), placing education in the Concurrent List 1976, subsequent education policies (1986 and 1992 revised version), planning policies, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Common Minimum Programme 2004, were measures for the enhanced supply of public resources to attain constitutionally mandated educational objectives (De and Tanuka 2008). The Kothari Commission (1966) recommendation of transferring public resources at least equivalent of 6% of the national income through public budgets continues to be the accepted ideal for public provisioning of budgetary resources for education build-up in the country (Tilak 2006). At the time of the launch of New Education Policy (1986), it was decided to achieve the target of this 6% ideal by the end of Eighth Five Year Plan (1992–97) (Brar 2008: 334). The said norm has been upheld by the National Education Policy 2020 as well. The policy categorically mentioned that there is no better investment towards a society’s future than that of the high-quality education of our young people (MHRD 2020: 60).

All the states and union government provide public resources, in varying quantum and budgetary proportions, to education through annual budgets. Furthermore, of all types of budgetary allocations, it is the monetary provisions made for the education sector, which attracts wider media headlines. This has been so, given the huge resource requirement of the sector as such and also from the society’s rising concern for the education of their children. So, throughout the last decade and more, particularly during the run-up to the recently held assembly election (2022) in Punjab, the budgetary spending on education by the Punjab government has come to stay as a matter of deep political and social contestation. It needs to be understood that resource allocations, being the net outcome of a lengthy budgetary process based upon techno-economic calculations, in practice involve critical rationing of financial resources among intensely com­peting government departments.

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Updated On : 6th Nov, 2022
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