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Education, S&T, R&D And Interim Union Budget 2024-25 – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Education, S&T, R&D and Interim Union Budget 2024-25

Press Release

Reetwika Mallick

The IMPRI Center for ICT for Development, IMPRI, Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, hosted an interactive panel discussion on the topic “Education, S&T, R&D and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” on 4 February 2024, under IMPRI 4th Annual Series of Thematic Deliberation and Analysis of Interim Union Budget 2024-25, as part of IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk.

The chair for the discussion on ‘education, science and technology, research and development and interim budget 2024-25’, was Prof. Sachidanand Sinha, visiting professor, IMPRI. The session commenced with the chair’s enlightening remarks on the decreasing trend of budgetary allocation for education and the targeted allocation of 6% under the National Education Policy (NEP). Dr. Sinha not only emphasized the need for a higher share of budgetary allocation for education but also to ensure the allocated amount is used effectively.

The discussion was carried forward by distinguished panelist, Dr Protiva Kundu, thematic lead – social sectors, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi. Dr. Kundu termed the budgetary allocation to the education sector as incremental allocation, since both the overall expenditure of the union government as well as the allocation for the education sector has increased by 6% and 6.8% respectively from the previous financial
year.

Despite such an incremental budgetary allocation, the budget assigned to the Ministry of Education is only 0.37% of the GDP, Dr. Kundu said. Dr. Kundu while presenting the pattern of the budgetary allocation revealed that the expenditure of the school education department is financed more than 70% through educational cess and for the department of higher education,
educational cess contributes to more than 33% of the expenditure. Such trends, according to Dr. Kundu, have defeated the purpose of introducing cess, i.e. to supplement the government’s financing for education.

Dr. Kundu drew the session’s attention towards schools under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, catering to a large number of marginalized students, and not getting qualitative budgetary allocation. Such patterns of budget appropriation magnify the challenges faced by under-privileged students. The measures adopted by the union government to ensure inclusivity in education were outlined by DR. Kundu in terms of various scholarship schemes. Dr. Kundu explained that there has been a reduction in allocation amount or stagnation of budget in the
scholarship schemes, except for the schemes for scheduled tribe communities.

Dr. Kundu discussed the challenges that the education sector is facing including the digital divide, and lack of employment access due to the absence of a skilled labor force. Another concern according to Dr. Kundu is under-utlisation of the allocated funds. She enumerated that the under- allocation of funds and under-utilization of funds are connected with each other in a vicious cycle.

Esteemed panelist, Dr Y. Suresh Reddy, Director, SRF Foundation, Gurgaon carried forward the session with his informative take on the various educational schemes of the government, with special emphasis on the Right to Education and National Education Policy. Dr. Reddy outlined that, even though there has been an incremental budgetary allocation to education, the increased amount is very marginal. Dr. Reddy mentioned that the budget amount is asymmetrically distributed within the education sector. While a 250-crore budget is appropriated for the development of artificial intelligence, the budgetary increment for implementing Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan is insufficient.

Dr. Reddy proposed a transformational budget rather than merely an incremental budget. The esteemed speaker remarked that there is a need for combined efforts of state and center, since education is a concurrent list subject, to ensure the targeted fund allocation is being fulfilled. He also delineated the importance of the government’s role in revamping the education sector despite other sources of fund allocation like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.

This was followed by pertinent questions posed by the distinguished panelist, Adv Anubha Shrivastava Sahai, President India Wide Parents Association Lawyer and child rights activist. Adv. Shrivastava questioned the implementation of various educational schemes including the Right to Education and Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. She drew the session’s attention towards the lack of proper utilization of the allocated funds by the government.

Adv Shrivastava recommended using the budget to improve the infrastructure of existing educational institutions and pumping in money through public-private partnerships for such projects. She also criticized the reduced budgetary allocation to government-aided schools and universities, including the University Grants Commission (UGC). In her concluding remarks, Adv. Shrivastava underlined the importance of evaluating and monitoring the proper utilization of the funds allocated by the ministries and the departments for achieving the desired outcomes.

After the question-and-answer session, the discussion was concluded by Dr. Sinha, the chair’s remarks on education-employment linkages and emphasizing that the goals of the Right to Education should not be forgotten. In closing remarks, Dr. Sinha thanked IMPRI, Impact and Policy Research Institute for hosting a successful panel discussion and ensuring the smooth functioning of the event.

IMPRI’s 4th Annual Series of Thematic Deliberations and Analysis of Interim Union Budget 2024-25

Watch the event at IMPRI #Web Policy Talk

Reetwika Mallick is a research intern at IMPRI.

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