Though education, skill development and employment were the key issues in the election manifesto of the BJP, the Budget failed to give a precious little in terms of direction or money allocated. It failed to create an incrementally different roadmap. The Twitterati was quick to see this. Rs 200 crore for the largest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and only Rs 100 crore for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojna.
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The only tangible outcome in favour of the education sector was the decision to set up five new IIMs and IITs, 12 medical colleges and four AIIMS-level institutions in four states. But barring the medical colleges, do we really need new IIMs and IITs? "We already have 30,000 higher education institutions. They are adequate but where are the teachers and the infrastructure?" asks Bharat Gulia, former education practice leader of Ernst & Young and currently entrepreneur with Metis Learning.
The opposition cannot be faulted for saying that the BJP has merely built on the roadmap already laid out. There are already the Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan and mid-day meal schemes. The Economic Survey 2013-14 has pointed out that people in the working-age are set to increase from 58 per cent in 2001 to over 64 per cent by 2021. Hence, the need to up the spend on education as a percentage of the GDP. This went up from 2.9 per cent in 2008-09 to 3.3 per cent in 2013-14.
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For those not in a tearing hurry and interested in listening, the same survey also highlighted that while expenditure per child in public schools increased 119.5 per cent, growing percentage of household are exiting from public schools.
The learning outcome has declined to 32.4 per cent as government spend has increased. To this end, no doubt the Union Budget announced an allocation of Rs 50 crore towards the School Assessment Programme and setting up of virtual classrooms under the Communication Linked Interface for Cultivating Knowledge (CLICK). But even here most observers feel that this is just a pittance and hardly points to any policy change.
Clearly, the FM has chosen not to read the fineprint. The road map on skill development is also vague. The only incremental change has been the allocation of Rs 500 crore on teacher training. But, how will this be used, one will have to wait. The first step to any learning is not to rush with it. That is precisely the rule that has not been maintained.
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