Today’s children are the citizens of tomorrow, goes the saying. Where illiteracy is still a burning problem, does this maxim hold ground when thousands of children are still deprived of quality education owing to poverty and lack of facilities? No all-weather school building in slum localities! Irregularity of teachers’ attendance in remote locations! Late delivery of textbooks hampering studies! Dilapidated condition of many school structures! Lack of teachers! Lack of basic educational infrastructure! Besides, going by the latest technology, the smart classroom concept is not yet in place. These are only few issues rampant in every nook and corner of India. And these issues need to be dealt with effectively for the creation of a stronger nation. Tackling unequal access to education and building a robust education system at the primary level is the need of the hour.
The government has been allocating funds every budget for the education sector. Allocation of resources in this segment should be adequate. Here are possible outcomes that Budget 2018 can bring to the primary education segment.
Increase of Education cess from 3 percent to 4 per cent
The government has been levying a 3 percent cess to run government-sponsored programs in health and education. This budget 2018, the government increased the education cess from 3 percent to 4 percent. The increase of 1 percent cess will help the government raise an additional Rs 11,000 crore. The government has announced the allocation of this additional amount with prime focus on education and health.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
The government had launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as a pet project last year. It focused on the universalisation of elementary education. This program had been allocated Rs. 23,500 crore in Budget 2017. It was a success with 100 percent enrolment. The mid-day meal scheme, which was part of the program, received an allocation of Rs. 10,000 crores. This Budget 2018, the focus should be shifted from enrollments to learning outcomes. The government is expected to allocate funds on this shift directed towards periodic monitoring of students’ performance and development. The government should adopt a robust assessment model for its effective implementation. It should be directed towards imparting quality education.
There are lakhs of primary schools across the length and breadth of India. To impart quality education, the focus should be on improving quality of teaching in schools. Teachers should be regularly trained and made accountable. While teacher-student ratio should be according to norms, quality control systems should be well in place to monitor development. The entire education system needs restructuring. This Budget 2018 allocation of funds should be comparatively higher compared to last year’s fund allocation in the primary education segment.
Public Private Partnership
In government run schools, dropout rate of students is very high. Lack of English medium learning and facilities are the key reasons. Educators are hoping for the government’s alignment of the educational system to the realities of 21st century learning techniques. It is not feasible with govt funds alone. This Budget 2018, the government is also looking at Public-private partnership (PPP) where govt and private schools can work together to achieve the above objective. Any private or public organization with a revenue of 25 crore plus or earnings of 10 crore can fund govt. schools to align to an international curriculum as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). The research-oriented international curriculum will not only decrease dropout rate of students but also promote their creativity, communication skills, and widen their skills.
Considering allocation of funds in the education sector as a percentage of the GDP, the government fares lower compared to her BRICS peers. Most of the BRICS countries allocate a good percentage of the GDP towards education. India should increase allocation of resources in the education sector so that the goal of transforming the education landscape is effectively achieved.
A literate India, a better India should be the ultimate goal!