By Gyan Pathak
With the approaching general elections in 2019, the political establishment has become more vociferous in the hope of covering up their failures of performance. High sounding schemes are being launched to avert possible anti-incumbency by mesmerizing the people of India in their favour. The new Integrated Scheme for School Education just approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is such an example which is to be implemented from April 1, 2018. It is nothing but a cover-up operation of the government for its dismal performance in Education sector in the last 46 months which has even distorted the overall milieu in this sector by making education too costly for majority of the people.
The official release stated that the scheme will be implemented up to March 31st , 2020 with an estimated allocation of Rs 75000 crore over the period, a 20 per cent increase over the current allocations. In a bid to improve the falling image of Modi as a new political messiah of Indians, it was said that the scheme comes in the backdrop of PM’s vision of Sabko Shiksha (Education to all), Achchi Siksha (good education), aiming at supporting the states in universalizing access to school education from classes pre-nursery to XII across the country. However, the vision of the Scheme is in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal For Education as adopted by the United Nations.
The new scheme will be formulated by subsuming Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education. The high sounding phrase is two T’s – Teacher and Technology. The objectives stated in the scheme document are also very pleasant to hear and to read – such as provisions of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students, ensuring minimum standards, promotion of vocationalization of education etc. It was branded as a holistic approach to education in which senior secondary levels and pre-school levels have been included for the first time. Modi has come with such a high sounding scheme for education at the fag-end of the 60 months of popular mandate given to him to rule the country.
Nevertheless, the boisterously stated 20 per cent increase in real terms fall very short of requirement in the first place, and secondly, with the cost escalation and increasing population the increase is but a nominal. Had our prime minister really intended to do something good for education for the people of the country, he would have performed better during the last four years by focusing on this sector which is considered one of the most important factors in human development capable of inducing overall happiness among the populace.
Let us have a look on the education scenario of the country. Increase in allocation of funds and expenditures are projected in terms of rupees as a propaganda material. It also gets praised by the people who steadily begin to believe that the government is really working for them. For example, total expenditure in 2017-18 reached Rs 4.41 lakh crore as against Rs 3.13 lakh crore in 2012-13. It looks like an impressive growth, but when we look at the figure in percentage terms, the picture turns ugly.
As percentage to the GDP, expenditure on education, which was 3.1 per cent in 2012-13, fell to 2.8 per cent in 2014-15 when BJP led ruling establishment came to power. In 2015-16 it further fell to 2.4 per cent. Only a little improvement was noticed in 2016-17 and 2017-18, when it was 2.6 and 2.7 per cent respectively, which is much less than even the expenditure of 3.1 per cent in 2013-14 when the Congress led UPA was in power.
The dismal performance is noticed even when we look at the figures as percentage to total expenditure. The year just before the year Modi took the reins of this country, expenditure on education as percentage to total expenditure was 11.6 per cent which deteriorated to 10.8 per cent in 2014-15. It reduced to 9.8 and 9.7 per cent in the next two years. A little improvement has been projected for the current financial year which is expected to be 10 per cent, but still less than the level of expenditure in 2012-13.
As percentage to social services, the expenditure on education in 2012-13 was 47.5 per cent, which fell down to 46.1 per cent in 2014-15, 41.9 per cent in 2015-16, 40.2 per cent in 2016-17, and 40.3 per cent in the current financial year 2017-18. It is a very sharp fall which is sufficient to conclude that Modi government was not really interested in furthering the education sector of the country. He has all along been focusing on other things, most of them were adventurous policy experiments which induced hardship to the people of this country claiming that it would bring great benefits in the future.
What is the impact of the diminishing percentage of allocation to the education sector? The answer cannot be other than that which portraits gloomy picture. Since expenditure on education also includes sports, arts, and culture, they too have met the same fate under the present regime. Around 25 per cent of our schools have over 30 students per classroom. Shortage of qualified teachers is reported from all over the country. There are many other issues regarding quality and universal education, such as communalization, secularization, vocationalization, or privatization of education etc, which need urgent attention. The ad-hoc cosmetic application of the policies may attract voters for some time but not beneficial for people. (IPA Service)
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