The Union Budget 2021 made a 6.1 percent lower allocation (than Budget 2020) of Rs 93,224.31 crore allocation towards the education ministry in its Budget estimate (BE) 2021-22. The total allocation stood at Rs 54,873.66 crore for school education and Rs 38,350.65 crore for higher education.
However, when compared to the Revised Estimate 2020-21, there was a 9.5 percent increase in the allocation for the country's education sector in the budget announcements made today.
Here, there was a year-on-year (YoY) increase of 16.5 percent (compared to revised estimate 2020-21) for higher education allocation while there was a 5.1 percent YoY increase from RE 2020-21 for the school education segment.
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Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech that many cities have various research institutions, universities, and colleges supported by the Indian government. Here, Hyderabad for example, has about 40 such major institutions.
"In nine such cities, we will create formal umbrella structures so that these institutions can have better synergy, while also retaining their internal autonomy. A Glue Grant will be set aside for this purpose," she added.
While it was expected that a separate allocation would be announced for the National Education Policy 2020, the finance minister did not make any such proposal during her Budget speech.
Among the various schemes, the Rashtriya Uchtar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) got a Rs 3,000 crore allocation in BE 2021-22 as against Rs 166 crore in the revised estimate 2020-21.
RUSA is a centrally-sponsored scheme that aims to improve the quality of institutes, promotes self autonomy and aims to ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions. This scheme also promotes diversity including inclusion of SC/ST, minorities and women in the higher education system.
However, other schemes like Operation Digital Board (ODB) saw no increase in allocations for BE 2021-22. Launched in February 2019, ODB is a scheme that aims to provide smartboards in all government-aided schools and higher education institutions.
The outlay for this ODB scheme stood at Rs 1 crore, similar to the revised estimate 2020-21.
A new allocation of Rs 10 crore has been set aside for a segment called 'Indian Knowledge Systems'. This segment will look into elements of knowledge from ancient India and its contributions to modern India and its successes and challenges. Part of NEP 2020, the expenditure budget said that this ancient India knowledge will be incorporated in an accurate and scientific manner throughout the school curriculum wherever relevant.
Dip in allocations for some segments
There was also a drop in allocation for some schemes. For the flagship National Programme of Mid-Day Meal in Schools, the BE 2021-22 stood at Rs 11,500 crore as against Rs 12,900 crore in revised estimate 2020-21.
In the higher education department, while there was a consistent rise in allocation for improvement in salary scale of college/university teachers in every budget, this year there is a dip in allocation under BE 2021-22.
As against budget estimate of Rs 1,800 crore in 2020-21 and revised estimate of Rs 348.51 crore in 2020-21, only Rs 10 crore has been set aside for this purpose in BE 2021-22.