India Monday pegged its expenditure outlay at Rs.44,528 crore (Rs.445.28 billion) for both school and higher education which is around 20 percent more than the last fiscal.
According to the union budget 2009-10 proposals, while school education gets over Rs.29,099 crore (Rs.290.99 billion), the higher education bags Rs.15,429 crore (Rs.154.29 billion). The figures include both planned and unplanned outlay. Last fiscal, the total budget outlay for education was Rs.37,366 crore.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presenting the budget in parliament said the human resource development ministry has been provided an allocation of Rs.36,400 crore (planned outlay). This includes an estimated receipt of Rs.12,784.87 crore by way of proceeds from education cess. The fund will be spent mainly for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Midday Meal schemes.
While budget hails both the schemes and allocates more money for strengthening them, it also has made provision of Rs.350 crore to set up 6,000 model schools as benchmark of excellence.
An outlay of Rs.750 crore has been kept for disbursing 100,000 scholarships for students in class 11-12 under the national means-cum-merit scholarship scheme.
Keeping its promise to boost higher education, the government allocated the sector over Rs.40 billion more than the last fiscal, including a package of over Rs.10 billion for the implementation of quota for other backward castes (OBCs).
The higher education budget for the current fiscal has been pegged at Rs.15,429 crore (Rs.154.29 billion), including a planned allocation of Rs.9,600 crore. During the last financial year, the total allocation was Rs.11,340 crore.
"The demographic advantage India has, in terms of large percentage of young population, needs to be converted into a dynamic economic advantage by providing them the right education and skills," the finance minister said.
However, Sushil Kumar, a former professor at IIM-Lucknow, is not impressed even as he hoped that higher education infrastructure will be improved.
"I believe the government has a mandate to increase education budget to six percent of the GDP but looking at the present budget it is still too less than the target. The government needs to do more to improve educational situation in the country," said Kumar, now dean of academics of the Gautam Budhha University in Noida.
He was referring to the last UPA government's promise to allocate six percent of the GDP to improve education in the country.
"But I believe the budget allocation for higher education institutes like IITs and IIMs will improve the infrastructural bottlenecks in the existing and upcoming ones," Kumar said.
The University Grant Commission (UGC) has been provided an allocation of Rs.4,374.95 crore, which includes expenditure for both central and deemed universities.
"The government shall take forward its intent of having one central university in each uncovered state and for this purpose I am allocating Rs.827 crore," the minister announced in his budget speech.
Clarifying the expenditure for implementation of 27 percent quota for the OBC students, the budget underlined that "the allocation for central universities includes a provision of Rs.1,033 crore for implementation of oversight committee recommendations on implementations of the reservation for OBC communities."
The provision for the scheme Mission in Education through ICT has been substantially increased to Rs.900 crore. Similarly the provision for setting up and upgradating polytechnics under the skill development mission has been increased to Rs.495 crore.
Announcing a special package for the Panjab University, Mukherjee said: "The facilities at the Panjab University, Chandigarh, need to be improved. I therefore, propose to make an allocation of Rs.50 crore for this university."
The budget has also allocated Rs.90 crore for Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and state open universities to promote distance education. The budget further underlined that there is a provision of Rs.3,902 crore for technical education that includes provision towards assistance to IITs, IIMs and NITs.