Union Budget 2021: School education budget cut by close to Rs 5,000 crore

Budget 2021: Major schemes such as Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan have seen funds cut after the 2020-21 revised estimates saw amounts reduced.

Union Budget 2021: School education budget cut by close to Rs 5,000 crore representational image (source: Shutterstock)
Atul Krishna | Feb 1, 2021 - 3:22 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Union Budget 2021 for school education for the upcoming financial year dropped to Rs 54,873.66 crore, the lowest in two years.

Last year the budget allocated to the Department of School Education and Literacy was Rs 59,845 crores. This drop happened despite the massive reform project the central government announced under the National Education Policy 2020, cleared by the Union Cabinet in July.

The cuts come after the revised estimates for 2020-21, the year COVID-19 impacted schooling severely, dropped sharply from the budget estimates.

The country’s biggest school education scheme, the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, saw funds reduced to Rs 31,050.16 crore from 38,750.50 crore last year. Funds for the National Scheme for Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education shrivelled to Rs 1 crore from Rs 110 crore last year.

The National Education Policy 2020 had proposed a gender inclusion fund to promote girls education.

Activists saw the decision to cut funds for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan a move to usher in privatization.

Ambarish Rai, national convenor of RTE Forum, said: "If you look at the budget allocation for this year, why is the allocation for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan less than the actual budget spent for the same scheme in 2019-20. Even if the govenrment claims that there are no funds due to COVID-19 how can the estimated budget be less than what it actually spent in 2019-20."

"If the allocation for SSA is so small then where will the government find money to spend on strengthening 15,000 schools for the National Education Policy 2020. This is a highly disappointing budget that only helps to usher in privatization,” Rai said.

However, funds for the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas saw an increase. Kendriya Vidyalayas get Rs 6,800 crore for the financial year and Navodaya Vidyalayas saw an increase of Rs 500 crores to take funds earmarked for it to Rs 3,800 crores for the year.

The finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced that 15,000 schools will be strengthened according to the National Education Policy 2020. The Budget 2021 also allocated funds for 750 Eklavya Model Residential Schools in tribal areas and 100 Sainik schools.

The Ministry of Education's Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS), which involves partial funding from the World Bank, is allocated Rs 485 crore, under the Umbrella Programme for Development of Minortiies.

The budget estimates for the major schemes in the past few years are given below.

School Schemes / Institutions

2018-19 (In Rs. Cr)

2019-20 (In Rs. Cr)

2020-21 (In Rs. Cr)

2021-22 (In Rs. Cr)

Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan

30,341.81

36,322

38,750.50

31,050.16

Mid-Day Meal Scheme

10,500

11,000

11,000

11,500

Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan

4,425

5,012

5,516.50

6,800

Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti

2,793

3,068

3,300

3,800

Teachers Training, Adult Education

870.7

125.4

110

250

National Means cum Merit scholarship

300

368

373

350

National Scheme for Incentive to Girls

256

100

110

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