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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 17 New Delhi April 14, 2018

Sociology of Budgeting Education

Saturday 14 April 2018

by Sujit Kumar Choudhary

Budgeting education for the Indian society is more related with the sociological aspect as the Indian society is based on the notion of unity in diversity where everybody has equal rights irrespective of having different castes, religions, languages, regions and genders. The Indian Constitution guarantees the equality of all and provides constitutional safeguards to socially and economically deprived groups of people. It, however, cannot be denied the fact that there is a gap in terms of social, political, educational and economic potential among the various groups of people in India. In this regard, I think education, especially school education, is the most important factor influencing the socio-economic life of the people and capable of bridging this gap.

This year school education got a share of Rs 50,000 crores which is nearly Rs 3000 crores more than the previous year’s Revised Budget. This Budget raises various issues at different levels but five issues seem to be serious in regard to school education. First, the govern-ment has announced merging of school education from pre-school to class XII without outlining the blue-print of implementation as the SSA and RTE are already in place. Secondly, it has also advocated the educational transfor-mation from ‘blackboard to digital board’ with-out looking at the basic quality components of schooling. Thirdly, the establishment of residential schools for tribal children in terms of the Eklavya Vidyalayas on the cost of cutting down the budget allocation for the both Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas. Fourthly, there is revitalisation of the infras-tructure and systems in education. Fifthly, there will be more focus on technology and IT in schooling.

The above Budget points show the unaware-ness of the government about the nature of the Indian society as approximately one-fourth of the people of our country is struggling for bread and butter. A significant portion of the population does not have the basic amenities such as food, shelter and clothing. And even one-fourth of the population is not able to sign and is facing educational deprivation followed by other kinds of discrimination. A 2014 UNICEF-sponsored South Asia regional study ‘All Children in School by 2015’ finds that economic and sociocultural factors are crucial reasons behind the educational deprivation for certain groups, especially SCs, STs and Muslims of India. This study confirms that poverty is the major reason as it outlines: “Poverty levels are very high in these three groups. The India Human Development Survey also shows the incidence of poverty is highest among the STs (49.6 per cent), followed by SCs (32.3 per cent), and then Muslims (30.6 per cent).” At this juncture how can a person think of getting education when he has to struggle for bread and butter?

Another important point is that the failure of different educational programmes in the direction of universalisation of elementary education. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)—the Government of India’s flagship programme for implementation of Right to Education, 2009 (RTE)—makes it mandatory that all children between the ages of six to 14 will be provided free and compulsory education. But the fact is that various studies have found significant disparities in the enrolment rates, drop-outs and quality components in school education across States, districts and blocks. In the case of tribals, the drop-out rates are still higher—35.6 per cent in classes I to class V, 55 per cent in classes I to VIII, and 70.9 per cent in classes I to X in 2010-11, followed by other deprived groups of India. (Statistics of School Education 2010-11)

If we go into the previous allocation of funds for the SSA, it was Rs 26,608 crores in 2013-14, the last year before Modi took over as the PM; then it declined for two years, marginally increased for the next two and now stands at Rs 26,128 crores in this year’s Budget (11.9 per cent more than the previous year), still less than what it was five years ago. For the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan for secondary education (where there are most of the drop-outs) the allocation this year is a meagre Rs 4213 crores. (Verma 2018) By looking at this allocation in different years, the Budget fails to address issues like increasing number of out-of-school children (84 million as in the 2011 census) and increasing number of enrolment, acute crisis of teachers, closure of government schools (nearly 2 lakhs) across the country. As per the estimate, only 10 per cent of schools are compliant with the RTE norms till now.

Let us discuss the various important issues of school education one by one. Firstly, the Government of India is planning to merge all stages of school education from pre-primary, primary, secondary till class XII. In this regard, the implementation of the SSA and RTE will possibly be diluted and a new way will be followed. The very basic idea of universalisation of elementary education will be at stake as the government had the primary duty to at least assure basic elementary education for children. The SSA is very much based on bridging the social divide between various groups of people. No doubt, the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme has done remarkable work as children of various groups of people sit together and have food. Different studies confirm this including my own research (Choudhary, 2012) and the study based on UGC-Research Award. (2016-18)

Secondly, education will be based on the transformation from ‘blackboard to digital board’. Is this possible where the schools do not have sufficient number of teachers to teach the children across different States, especially the BIMARU States? My own two research studies, NUEPA DISE study (2014-2015) and UGC-Research Award (2016-18) on the Implementation of RTE in Jharkhand State, confirm that there is acute crisis of teachers in the States where most of the schools have only one/two teachers at primary/elementary levels of school and most of the schools have the temporary teachers. In this situation, how is it possible to provide education through digital board when even the blackboard is not in use?

Thirdly, the decision is for establishment of residential schools for tribal children in terms of Eklavya Vidyalayas on the cost of cutting down the budget allocation of both Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas. So far as the government schools are concerned, both Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas have been performing well by taking care of all groups into consideration without any group based discrimination or exclusion. The Jawahar Navodaya Vidayalayas are based on the philosophy that all poor and meritorious children will get education free of cost. Why does the government then want to have separate schools for only tribal children? I have found from my own research that it is not the social groups, rather the teachers who educate the children. In this regard, the particular group that dominate an area may appoint the teachers from that group only so that they could speak their language too in educating the children.

Fourthly, there is revitalisation of the infras-tructure and systems in education. This again shows that the government is unaware about the fact that there is more availability of infrastructure in terms of buildings or rooms in the schools. However, studies confirm the lack of other infrastructural components such as boundary wall, playground, electricity etc. (Choudhary, 2018) Fifthly, there will be more focus on technology and IT in schooling. Definitely, it will help the school children to come out as more skilled but if there is hardly any quality component in the schools as the children lack basic numerical skills and knowledge of alphabets, then how can one imagine of technology/IT-based government schools?

In conclusion, this year the budgetary allocation on education does not conform to the inclusiveness of the Indian society. Rather it deviates from the programmes such as the SSA and RTE which represent the essentiality of school education in India. Whatever the drawbacks in these programmes, these need to be overcome and the whole system reformulated for the benefit of the society rather than presenting a utopian view of educational transformation.


1. Choudhary, Sujit Kumar (2012), Education, NGOs and Social Capital: A Micro Study of Tribals, Satyam Books, New Delhi.

2. Choudhary, Sujit Kumar (2014-2015), Research Study on “A Study of Implementation of Provisions of RTE in Jharkhand: Analysis of DISE Report in Six Major Tribal Concentrated Districts” by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA).

3. Choudhary, Sujit Kumar (2016-18), UGC-Research Award on topic “Impact of Provisions of RTE on Educational Status of Tribals of Jharkhand: A Comparative Study of Eight Villages of Ranchi and Dumka Districts”.

4. Choudhary, Sujit Kumar (2018), ‘Has the Right to Education Been Realised in Jharkhand?’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 53, Issue No. 5, February 3.

5. Government of India (2010-11), Statistics of School Education 2010-11, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

6. UNICEF (2014), South Asia Regional study ‘All Children in School by 2015’, Kathmandu, Nepal.

7. Verma, Subodh (2018), ‘Budget 2018: Mr Modi’s Optical Illusion’, News Click, February 3.

Dr Sujit Kumar Choudhary MA, M.Phil, Ph.D. (JNU, New Delhi) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, Coordinator, Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences, Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ), Ranchi. His website is http://cuj.ac.in/sujitChoudhary.php

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62