The 2017-18 budget is an opportunity for the government to concentrate on improving school education for over 260.5 million children who enrolled in elementary and secondary school in 2015-16-children who will form the core of India’s working-age population, one billion by 2030, the largest in the world.
“Business as usual” will not solve the problem, submitted Pratham, an education nonprofit, in a pre-budget consultation with India’s finance ministry. “Unless major shifts are undertaken on an urgent basis to build children’s foundational skills, we are losing huge opportunities each year for improving the life chances of an entire generation of children and youth in this country,” the consultation note added.
IndiaSpend reached out to the education ministry for a comment on the Budget 2017-18, but we had not received a response at the time of publishing. (This story will be updated if and when the ministry responds.)
Higher education dominated last year’s education budget (with an increase of 13% over the 2015-16 budget) and the conversation about education-with policies for improving the quality and ranking of higher education, creation of a higher-education financing agency, and approval of new higher-education institutes-even though only 34.2 million enrolled in higher education institutions in 2014-15 or, a seventh or fewer than those enrolled in school.
In contrast, the school education and literacy budget increased 3.2% in 2016-17, compared to 2015-16 revised budget estimates, according to union budget data.
Over the financial year 2016-17, the central government allocated Rs 43,554 crore to school education and literacy, and Rs 28,840 crore to higher education.