An in-depth analysis of India’s past education budgets


As the anticipation regarding the spending on education is mounting before the presenting of 2019 budget, here is a look at spending on education over the recent past in the country.

While allocating the estimated spending on education in 2018 budget, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said education was a priority area for the country. The total funds allocated for education in this budget was Rs 85,010 crores.

The budget allocation for education as per the 2018-19 budget was seen less 4% higher than the estimates found in the revised budget of the current year. In 2017-18 budget, Rs 79,685.95 crores was pegged as an outlay for spending on education which was later revised to Rs 81,868 crores.

The economic survey presented last year stated that the government did not have enough fiscal space to increase its spending on social sectors which includes education. Talking in a theoretical point of view, we can say that the Union budget is focused mainly on two important areas of education namely integration and fiscal accountability.

The finance Minister said in his budget speech, “We now propose to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class XII.”

This will mean that the Union Government is keen on implementing plans to integrate the whole gamut of the school education sector from pre-school to Class XII which implies that we can anticipate a number of mergers of school schemes in future too.

The 2018 budget unveiled a new scheme called Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education or RISE. This scheme is being financed through the restructured higher education financing agency (HEFA). This is a non-banking financial company. It works with an objective of lending low-cost funds to government run higher educational institutions.

In the fiscal year 2018, HEFA received a grant of Rs 250 crores during budget allocation. In fiscal year 2019, it is estimated that this lending body will be supported with an aid of Rs 2,750 crores through the budget awaited.

Out of the total education outlay for the fiscal year 2019, the school education sector receive a major portion of Rs 50,000 crores. This is Rs 3,000 crores more than the previous revised budget. The remaining Rs 35,010 crores was allotted for the higher education sector.

In the school sector, the SA received an allotment of Rs 26,128 crores, which was up from the Rs 23,500 crores in the budget that preceded it. In the same way, RMSA will receive Rs 4,213 crores which is up by Rs 300 crores when compared to the budget earlier to it. The Mid-day meal program received Rs 10,500 crores in the fiscal year 2019 which is an increase of Rs 500 crores from the earlier budget.

In the higher education sector, the total budget allocation for IITs was reduced from Rs 8,244 crores to Rs 6,326 crores in 2018-19. The grants to IIMs as well as the University Grants Commission also faced a cut.

Though there has been a push of digital education initiatives by the government, budget 2018 had cut the funds allotted for e-learning from 518 crores to Rs 456 crores in the fiscal year 2019.

Aurobindo Saxena, vice-president of Technopak says, “Holistic approach of school sector is a good move...on HEFA it would be interesting to see how they want to raise the fund. The capacity of academic institutions to repay loans (taken from HEFA) over a 10-year time horizon will be closely watched."
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