‘Union Budget 2020-21’ Fails Again to Address the Challenges of School Education

30% of girls from the poorest families never set foot inside a classroom; A Big Barrier for India’s Development : Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum
30% of girls from the poorest families never set foot inside a classroom; A Big Barrier for India’s Development : Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum

Allocation for Education shows “Government’s Shrinking Responsibility towards School Education and Implementation of RTE Act 2009.

”Only Digitization and online courses do not guarantee quality education, rather it widens the inequality”: Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum

New Delhi, 1st February, 2020 : “Union Budget 2020-21 again fails to provide an investment of 6% of GDP on education. A mere allocation of Rs. 99,300 crore for entire education sector and Rs 59845 crore for school education (only minimal increase of 3308 crore from previous year’s 56537 crore) is grossly inadequate to universalise education,” said Ambarish Rai, National Convenor, RTE Forum after the Union Budget 2020 was presented today by Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.

Shri Rai said that it is very unfortunate that share of education expenditure in total budget decreased from 3.5% in 2018-19 (A) to 3.3% in 2020-21 (BE) while it shows a drastic cut in budget for Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) from Rs. 2100 crore in 2019-20 (BE) to Rs. 300 crore in 2020-21 (BE). During her speech, the Finance Minister didn’t even mention school education, despite the fact that millions of children still remain out of school.

If the government intends to extend the Right to Education Act 2009, as recommended by the draft National Education Policy and ensure free and compulsory education to all children from pre-primary to Class 12 (3-18 years), it would have focused its attention on ensuring adequate allocation of budget along with clear roadmap for strengthening the public education system, he added.

Mr. Rai strongly reminded that the budget has completely shifted focus from the issue of elementary education and has also failed to address the key issues of the education sector, like the huge number of out of school children (84 million as census 2011), 10.1 lakhs vacancy of teachers in the country, closure of government schools (nearly 2 lakhs) across the country and only 12.7% RTE compliant schools (even after nearly 10 years of the RTE Act). With such a meagre budget, the govt. will not be able to ensure fulfilment of the provisions of the RTE Act.

Mr Rai expressed his disappointment saying that instead of increasing allocations to strengthen an Inclusive Public Education System, the government is paving the way for privatisation and PPP model in education.

This neglect will adversely impact children, particularly those from poor, marginalised communities and also girls, adding to the already increasing number of Out of school children in India. The commitment to universalize secondary education (SDG Goal 4) by 2030 will also remain a distant dream.

Ambarish Rai, National Convenor, RTE Forum, concluded that the budget is nowhere close to expectations and the government has failed to take in cognizance that investment in education will not only transforms the socio-economic status of common masses but boost the economic growth of the country also.

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