Promoting Education Expenditure to 6 percent of GDP in India 2023

Education is the cornerstone of human development and has been recognized as a fundamental right by the United Nations. As a developing nation, India has placed a significant emphasis on education to achieve its economic and social goals. Today, India has a large and diverse education system. The government provides free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of fourteen years. The quality of education in India varies widely. The best schools are located in urban areas, offering a high quality of education. However, the quality of education in the rural areas is often found poor.

The government has been working towards providing accessible and quality education to all its citizens. The government is investing in new schools and colleges, and it is also providing scholarships and other financial aid to students from low-income families. India needs to increase its education expenditure to meet its growing population’s needs. The country has many illiterate people, the quality of education is unsatisfactory, and the investment in the education sector has been inadequate. Increased education expenditure may help improve education quality and make it more affordable.

In this article, we discuss the usefulness of increasing the expenditure on education to 6 percent of GDP in India.

When was it first recommended?

The first time that a 6 percent expenditure on education to GDP in India was recommended was by the Kothari Commission in 1964. The commission was set up to review the country’s education system and the general principles and policies for education development. Among its recommendations was that the share of education expenditure to the Gross National Income (GNI) be increased from 2.9 percent in 1965-66 to 6 percent by 1985-86. This recommendation was based on certain assumptions concerning economic growth, population growth, and enrolment numbers.

The Kothari Commission’s recommendation was reiterated by the National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1986. The NPE stated that “education is the most important investment for the nation’s future” and that “the country must allocate at least 6 percent of its national income to education”. However, despite these recommendations, India has not achieved the target of 6 percent expenditure on education to GDP.

Why is it not yet around 6 percent?

There are several reasons why India has not achieved the target of 6 percent expenditure on education to GDP. These may include:

  • Lack of political will
  • Lack of resources
  • Poor planning & implementation
  • Corruption

The lack of political will is perhaps the biggest obstacle to achieving the target of 6 percent expenditure on education to GDP. Politicians are often more interested in spending money on other things, such as infrastructure or defense. They also tend to be more concerned with the short-term than the long-term and may not see the benefits of investing in education.

Lack of resources is another major obstacle. India does not have adequate resources to spend 6 percent of its GDP on education. The government must prioritize its spending, and education is often not at the top.

Poor planning and implementation are also significant problems. The government often does not have a concrete plan for spending its education budget. This leads to waste and inefficiency. In addition, the government often cannot implement its plans effectively. Planning is much better than its implementation.

Corruption may be another significant problem. There is much corruption in the education sector in India too. Many times corruption in the mid-day meal scheme is reported in the media.

Despite these challenges, there are some reasons to be hopeful. The government has recently made some commitments to improving education. In 2020, it released a new National Education Policy (NEP) that sets out several ambitious goals for the education sector. The NEP calls for universal access to quality education, from early childhood to higher education. It also calls for a focus on vocational education and training.

It remains to be observed how effectively the government implements the NEP. However, the NEP is a step in the right direction, and it could help India achieve its 6% expenditure on education to GDP.

The Need for Increased Expenditure on Education

India has made significant progress in education in the past few decades. The literacy rate has increased from 18.33 percent in 1951 to 77.7 percent in 2011. However, despite the progress, significant challenges still need to be addressed. The quality of education is a primary concern, and there is a significant gap in the learning outcomes between urban and rural areas. Furthermore, there may be a shortage of skilled teachers, and the educational infrastructure is inadequate in many parts of the County.

As mentioned above, the investment in education is crucial for the development of India. The benefits of education are numerous, including improved health outcomes, increased productivity, & higher income levels. In India, the government spends around 4 percent of GDP on education, below the global average of 4.9 percent. The government’s spending on education has been stagnant for the past few years, and it needs to be increased to achieve the desired outcomes.

There are several benefits to increasing education expenditure which may result in India achieving Education For All in the real sense. First, it would help improve the quality of education, leading to better student outcomes, such as higher test scores and graduation rates. Second, it would make education more affordable for everyone. This would allow more people to get the education they need to succeed. Third, it would boost the economy. A more educated workforce is a more productive workforce. This would also lead to higher economic growth.

In a nutshell, it is sure that increasing the expenditure on education to 6 percent of GDP has numerous advantages, as presented below:

  • Firstly, it will help improve the quality of education by providing better infrastructure, hiring more teachers, and developing appropriate curricula. This will result in better learning outcomes, and students will be better equipped to face future challenges.
  • Secondly, it will help bridge the gap between urban and rural education. The rural areas of India have been neglected in terms of education infrastructure and quality of education. Increasing expenditure on education will help provide better facilities and resources to these regions, resulting in equitable access to education.
  • Thirdly, increasing investment in education will help create a skilled workforce in various sectors; providing quality education to the youth is crucial. This will result in higher employability and increased productivity.

The Roadblocks to Achieving the Goal

There are several challenges to increasing education expenditure. First, it would require a significant increase in government spending. This could be a burden on the budget. Second, it would require better management education resources. This would ensure that the money is spent effectively. Third, it would require a change in mindset. People need to see education as an investment, not an expense.

Despite challenges, as mentioned above that the increasing education expenditure is essential for India’s future. It is an investment in the country’s human capital. If increased, it may pay off in the long run, leading to higher economic growth, which shall result in a better quality of life for all Indians.

In addition to increasing education expenditure, there are several other considerations that India may like to do to improve its education system. These include:

  • They are reforming the teacher training system to ensure that teachers are qualified and competent.
  • Given the lack of teachers (around 1 million), adequate number of teachers in each school is needed for the day. Even if the government increases the expenditure on education, it may not result in better learning outcomes if there are not enough skilled teachers to impart knowledge.
  • Improving the quality of textbooks and other learning materials.
  • Prioritizing spending on various sectors is another crucial point that must be considered.
  • Providing more access to computers and other technology in schools.
  • Expanding early childhood education programs.
  • Increasing the number of scholarships and other financial aid programs for students from low-income families.

India faces several other challenges in increasing its expenditure on education to 6 percent of its GDP. Some of these challenges may include:

  • Limited government resources: The government of India has limited financial resources, and it must allocate funds to various sectors, such as health, defense, and infrastructure, in addition to education. This can make it challenging to increase education spending to the desired level.
  • High population: India has a large population, and providing education to all citizens can be daunting. It requires significant resources, including funds, teachers, and infrastructure.
  • Unequal distribution of resources: Even with the current level of education spending, there are disparities in the distribution of resources across different states and regions in India. Some areas have better schools, teachers, and facilities, while others lack basic infrastructure.
  • Lack of skilled teachers: India faces a shortage of skilled and qualified teachers, particularly in rural areas. This can lead to poor quality education, discouraging students from continuing their studies.
  • Inefficient spending: Even when funds are allocated to education, there can be issues with inefficient spending. This can result in poor infrastructure, inadequate teacher training, and ineffective policies.

Addressing these challenges will require significant effort and resources from the government and other stakeholders. It will require a comprehensive approach that addresses funding, infrastructure, teacher training, and policy implementation issues.

In light of the above discussion, raising the expenditure on education to 6 percent of GDP is crucial for India’s development. It will help improve the quality of education, bridge the gap between urban & rural education, and create a skilled workforce. However, various challenges must be addressed, such as the allocation of funds and the shortage of quality teachers. With proper planning and implementation, India can achieve its goal of providing accessible and quality education to all its citizens.

Historical Perspective: Expenditure on education to 6 percent of GDP

To understand the pattern of expenditure, it is essential to examine its historical perspective. India has a long and complex history, and this is reflected in the country’s approach to education.

The British colonial government established the modern education system in India in the 19th century. Before that, education was primarily provided through traditional systems such as gurukuls, madrasas, and pathshalas. The British introduced a new education system based on Western principles and focused on creating a class of educated Indian elites who could assist in administering the British Empire.

Following India’s independence (1947), the government took over the responsibility of providing education to all of its citizens. The Constitution of India recognized education as a fundamental right and directed the government to provide free & compulsory education to all children up to 14. The government also established various institutions, like UGC & AICTE, to regulate and improve the country’s education quality.

Despite these efforts, the education system in India continued to face numerous challenges. One of the biggest challenges was the lack of access to education, particularly in rural areas. In addition, the quality of education provided by government schools was often subpar, leading to many children dropping out of school.

Over the years, various government initiatives have been launched to address these challenges. The most significant of these initiatives was the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), launched in 2001. The SSA aimed to provide universal access to elementary education and improve the quality of education in government schools. The Right to Education (RTE) Act, passed in 2009, made education a fundamental right for all children between 6 and 14.

Despite these initiatives, education expenditure in India has remained low. According to UNESCO, India spent only 3.1 percent of its GDP on education in 2016, significantly lower than the global average of 4.7 percent. It is seen a growing demand for increased education expenditure in India. Many experts call for the government to allocate at least 6 percent of the GDP to education.

The education system in India has come a long way since the colonial era, with various initiatives aimed at improving access to education and enhancing its quality. However, education expenditure remains challenging, with the country lagging behind the global average. Increasing education expenditure is critical to achieving the government’s goal of providing quality education to all its citizens and enabling them to contribute to the country’s development.

Education for All in India