Activists and education experts welcomed the increased allocation for two flagship programmes, and new schemes announced for school education in the Union Budget on Thursday. However, they observed that it must correspondingly translate into better learning outcomes.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley noted that elementary education is one of the major priorities of the government. “There is a residual gap in providing minimal school infrastructure facilities. The government would strive to provide toilets and drinking water in all girls’ schools in the first phase,” he said.
Allocation for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a scheme that works towards universalisation of elementary education, increased from Rs. 27,258 crore last year to Rs.28,635 crore this year and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan’s, (that aims for universalisation of secondary education) from Rs. 3,983 crore in the last budget to Rs. 4,966 crore this year.
M. P. Vijaykumar, former State project director, SSA said while a higher allocation is welcome, better implementation and identifying reasons behind low learning outcomes was required.
“Providing toilets in all girls’ schools, virtual classrooms and introduction of the teacher training programme is welcome,” said K. Shanmugavelayutham, Convenor, TN- FORCES, adding that spending on children must be six per cent of the total outlay.
Ranjan Kaul, managing director, Oxford University Press India, said it was heartening to see priority accorded to the education sector, especially the focus around primary education.