Education Sector in the Union Budget 2022-23
Arun C Mehta
Formerly Professor & Head of EMIS Department
NIEPA, New Delhi
Email: [email protected]

Introduction
Ever since the Kothari Commission (1968) recommended 6 per cent of the GDP for the education sector which was later reemphasized by the subsequent committees, commissions, and policy documents but never cross 4.15 per cent (in 1999) of the GDP which is now almost stagnant at 3.1 for the last couple of years. Recently adopted the National Education Policy 2020  reaffirmed the commitment of the Government that efforts will be made to reach 6 per cent of the GDP but didn’t mention the year by which the government intends to achieve this goal which would have far-reaching implications for the education sector which is still far away in attaining the status of universal school education in the real sense which is also true for the global commitment in attaining sustainable goals in general and education in particular (SDG4 Education). As against the 6 per cent expenditure on education to GDP, the Economic Survey presented in the Parliament on 31st January 2022 indicate that it was 2.8 per cent in 2019-20 as against 3.1 per cent in 2020-21 (revised) and 3.1 per cent in 2021-22 (budgeted).

Some of the main recommendations of NEP 2020 adopted by the Government are as follows:

  • New Policy aims for universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level with 100 % Gross Enrolment Ratio in school education by 2030.
  • NEP 2020 will bring 2 crores out-of-school children back into the mainstream.
  • The current 10+2 system is to be replaced by a new 5+3+3+4 curricular structure. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre-schooling.
  • Emphasis on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
  • A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to be raised to 50 % by 2035;  3.5 crore seats to be added in higher education.
  • Under Graduate education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period.
  • Academic Bank of Credits to be established to facilitate  Transfer of Credits
  • The Higher Education Commission of India will be set up as a single umbrella body for the entire higher education.
  • Every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting college or a constituent college of a university.
  • The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in the Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

The Present Article
Based on the information made available in the Union Budget 2022, an effort has been made to have a look at the budget, actual and revised estimates in case of the allocation made to the Ministry of Education. Needless to mention that the ministry has two departments namely the Department of School Education & Literacy and the Department of Higher Education all the activities of the ministry fall under these two departments. However, the focus of the present note is more on the School Education Department which plays a pivotal role in ensuring that it sends an adequate number of secondary graduates to the higher education without which the goal of 50 per cent GER as envisaged in NEP 2020 is not likely to be realised by 2030. Without improving the efficiency of the school education, the higher education sector is not expected to receive an adequate number of secondary graduates because of which the school education department must receive adequate funds to initiate activities as adopted in the NEP 2020.

Ministry of Education
Budget allocation on education sector during the period 2017-18 to 2022-23 presented in Table 1 reveals that the same barring the year 2021-22 has consistently increased from 81,868 crores in 2017-18 to 1,04,278 crores in the latest budget 2022-23 which is 11.86 per cent more than the same in the previous budget. During 2021-22, the allocation to education was declined by 6,088 crores which is 6.13 per cent of the allocation in the previous year.

Table 1: Budget Allocation to Education Sector: 2017-18 to 2022-23

Year Allocation Change over Previous Budget %age Change
2017-18 81,868
2018-19 85,010 3,142 3.84
2019-20 94,854 9,844 11.58
2020-21 99,312 4,458 4.70
2021-22 93,224 -6,088 -6.13
2022-23 1,04,278 11,052 11.86

Source: Union Budget Different years, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. Users are advised to refer to original budget documents for further use.

Details of actual expenditure (2020-21), budgeted and revised estimates of 2021-22, and budgeted allocation in the year 2022-23 presented in Table 2 reveals that budgeted allocation to the Ministry of Education has increased to 1,04,278 crores in 2022-23 from 93,224 crores in the previous year i.e., 2021-22; thus showing an increase of Rs. 11,052 crores which is 11.86 per cent more of the total budgeted allocation to the Ministry of Education in the previous year. However, the budgeted allocation was revised to 88,002 crores which is 5,222 crores less than the actual budgeted allocation or 5.60 per cent lower than the original allocation. As against the budgeted allocation of 1,04,278 crores in 2022-23, the actual expenditure of the Ministry of Education in 2020-21 was 84,219 crores; thus indicating budgeted allocation of 2022-23 is more by a hoping 20,059 crores; an increase of 23.82 per cent.

Table 2: Actual Expenditure, Revised Estimates, and Budgeted Allocation
Ministry of Education
(In Rs in Crores)

 

Department

 

Actual Expenditure 2020-21

 

Budget 2021-22

 

Budgeted Allocation 2022-23

Budgeted Revised
Department of School Education & Literacy 51842 54874 51970 63449
%age to Total Education Budget 61.6 58.9 59.1 60.8
Change over the Previous Budget 3032 128 8575
Department of Higher Education 32378 38351 36032 40828
%age to Total Education Budget 38.4 41.1 40.9 39.2
Change over the Previous Budget 5973 3654 2477
Total Ministry of Education 84219 93224 88002 104278
%age to Total Budget 2.4 2.7 2.3 2.6
Change over the Previous Budget 9005 3782 11052
TOTAL BUDGET

Size 2022-23

3509836 3483236 3770000 3944909

Source: Union Budget 2022-23, Ministry of Finance, Government of India (accessed on 02/02/2022). Users are advised to refer to original budget documents for further use.

Table 2 further reveals that budgeted allocation on education is 2.6 per cent of the total estimated budget size of Rs. 39,44,909 crores as against 2.4 per cent of the actual expenditure during the year 2020-21.

Expenditure by Departments
All the activities of the Ministry of Education are located either in the Department of School Education & Literacy or Department of Higher Education budget allocation of which presented in Table 2 reveals that the chunk of the allocation of the Ministry of education is used to be allocated to the Department of School Education & Literacy which has declined from a high 61.6 per cent in 2020-21 (actual) to 58.9 per cent (budgeted) in 2021-22 but improved a bit to 60.8 per cent in the latest 2022-23 budget allocation.

In absolute terms, the allocation to the school education department is to the tune of 63,449 crores in the 2022-23 budget as against 51,970 crores (revised) in 2021-22 and 51,842 crores (actual) in 2020-21. Allocation in 2022-23 of 63,449 crores is 11,608 crores more than the actual expenditure of 51,842 crores in 2021-22. The revised budget estimates of 2021-22 suggest that the budget allocation to the Ministry of Education was declined by 5,222 crores of which 2,904 crores alone was declined in the case of the Department of School Education as against a decline of 2,319 crores in the case of the Department of Higher Education.  The percentage 2022-23 budget allocation to the Department of Higher Education stands at 39.2 which is higher than the actual expenditure of 38.4 per cent in 2020-21.

Since the chunk of the budget estimates used to be allocated to the Department of School Education & Literacy, the same concerning its various schemes has also been looked at which reveals that the highest allocation is made to one of the flagship schemes of the department, namely the Sarva Shiksha details of which is presented below.

Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan
Samagra Shiksha (is one of the major centrally sponsored schemes of the Department of School Education & Literacy which was launched in 2018 by integrating the then Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and Teachers Education. The total budget allocation on this flagship programme is more by Rs. 6,333.2 crores than in 2021-22 but much lower than the total allocation of 38,750 crores in 2020-21. However, the revised and actual expenditure reveals that the same is much lower than the original allocation. Even though the allocation at Rs. 38,750 crores on Samagra Shiksha was high but the actual expenditure shows that only 27,834 crores could be utilised which is 10,915.93 crores (28.17 per cent) less than the original allocation. Similarly, the 2021-22 budget allocation of Rs. 31,050.16 Crores is now revised to Rs. 30,000 Crores, lowered by Rs. 1,050 crores (3.22 per cent). Money disbursed to states under the Samagra Shiksha may not necessarily be always treated as utilised as most of the time, the instalment is released late and many a time-released just before the budget announcement which is also true for the ongoing annual plan 2021-22.

Budget Allocation on Samagra Shiksha:

  • 2020-21 Rs. 38,750.50 Crores Actual Expenditure: Rs. 27,834.57 Crores
  • 2021-22 Rs. 31,050.16 Crores, Revised Rs. 30,000 Crores
  • 2022-23 Rs. 37,383.36 Crores

Teachers Training & Adult Education
One of the other important Centrally Sponsored Schemes is Teachers Training & Adult Education which has three components, namely the New India Literacy Programme, the appointment of language teachers and Padhna Likhna Abhiyan on which an allocation of Rs. 127 Crores has been made in 2022-23 budget as against an actual expenditure of Rs. 88.65 crores in 2021-22. Budget allocation on this scheme in 2021-22 was Rs. 250 crores as against the revised budget of only Rs. 2.75 crores; thus meaning that activities were not picked up as envisaged.

 National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education
The scheme to provide incentives to girls pursuing secondary education was launched in the year 2008-09 the main objective of which was to improve retention and to reduce the drop-outs and also to promote the enrolment of girl children belonging to SC/ST communities in secondary schools. In view of the low participation at this level of education, the incentive can play an important role but no amount has been allocated to this scheme as against only Rs. 1 crore allocated in the previous budget. Maybe the same will now be taken care of by the Samagara Shiksha which covers both elementary as well secondary levels of education.

Education Scheme for Madrasas and Minorities
Education Scheme for Madrasas and Minorities was one of the schemes under the Umbrella Programme for the development of minorities for which an amount of Rs. 214.28 crores was incurred during the year 2020-21 but in the subsequent year and also in the latest budget 2022-23, no amount has been allocated to this scheme. The scheme was expected to bring quality improvement in madrasas and enable Muslim children to attain standards of the national education system in the formal education mode.

Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman
The scheme of the National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools launched in 2008-09 was recently renamed as Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman under which cooked food in school is being served to students from Grade I to VIII for which an amount of Rs. 10,233.75 crores have been allocated in the 2022-23 budget which is lower than the same allocated in 2021-22 and 2020-21. The allocated amount of Rs. 10,233 crores in 2022-23 is much lower than the actual expenditure of Rs. 12,878.15 crores in 2020-21. Even the budgeted allocation of Rs. 11,500 crores in 2021-22 is revised to Rs. 10,233.75 crores and 2022-23 budget allocation is maintained at this amount. Maybe because of the pandemic schools were closed down for almost the last two years but once they are reopened the allocated funds may be found insufficient.

Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS)
The overall focus and components of the STARS project have been aligned with the objectives of the National Education Policy 2020 concerning quality based learning outcomes on which an amount of Rs. 91.77 crores were utilised as against an allocation of Rs. 485 crores in 2021-22. The budget 2022-23 has allocated even a higher amount which is 65 crores more than the allocation in the previous year.  The scheme is expected to help six states, namely  Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha in improving their learning assessment systems.

 Budget Allocation on STARS

  • 2020-21 Actual Expenditure: Rs. 91.77 Crores
  • 2021-22 Rs. 485 Crores, Revised Rs. 340 Crores
  • 2022-23 Rs. 550 Crores

Digital Mode of Learning
Apart from the above, there are allocations on a few other schemes which the Government intend to implement during the year amongst which impetus on the digital mode of learning is worth mentioning. The digital mode of learning is expected to reverse the learning loss because of the pandemic of which children in the government schools, in rural areas, more specifically children from the economic backward households and the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes communities are the worst affected. Schools are closed for almost two years and there is a great loss of learning. During the pandemic, the digital divide also come into the picture and studies conducted reveals that students do not have access to devices, computers, mobile phones, internet connectivity etc.

The enhanced allocation for the Ministry of Education may help in bridging learning gaps through digital learning for which various modes have been proposed. For this, the Finance Minister while delivering the budget speech announced that “one class-one TV channel programme of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels. This will enable all states to provide supplementary education in regional languages for classes 1 to12”. The Minister also announced that a digital university will be developed which shall provide access to students for world-class quality education, digital infrastructure in rural areas will be improved and a project for optical fibre network and 5G spectrum auction all of which may help in promoting digital education. In addition, high-quality e-contents in all spoken languages will be developed and delivered through radio, TV, internet, mobile phones and through digital teachers.

Of late, the Ministry of Education has prepared a plan to mitigate the learning loss and communicated to States & UTs under which the Centre will offer additional one-time financial support of Rs. 10,000/- for tablets to about 2.5 million primary school teachers in 2022-23 under the Sarva Shiksha for which states are asked to incorporate their learning recovering plan guidelines in the annual work plan and budget for the year 2022-23 which will be approved by the ministry after the same is appraised by the Project Approval Board of Samagra Shiksha. Additional funding is always welcome but their proper utilisation is going to be a challenging one for which the teachers are to be specially oriented to bridge the learning gaps which is not going to be a simple task. The Centre must engage national institutions, like NCERT and NIEPA to develop special training packages which must be part of the annual plan formulation exercise. The exiting planning methodology needs a total revamping given emerging needs because of the pandemic which is the need of the hour. This has also become necessary because states have been asked by the Ministry to develop annual as well as a perspective plan starting the year 2022-23.