Newsletter on the Education Emergency
January 2022

The National Coalition on the Education Emergency (NCEE) has been continuing its efforts to 'resume' and 'renew' school education, advocating for school re-opening and for empathetic education on resumption.
Financing Education

Republic Day commemorates the adoption of our Constitution. Only one article from the 'Directive Principles' of this constitution had a deadline. Article 45 stated that education would be made 'free and compulsory' within 10 years, by 1960. It took 60 years for the Right to Education Act to come into force in 2010. But even now, only around a tenth of all Indian schools fully meet the Act’s requirements for physical and academic infrastructure. This points to a crisis – not of lack of material resources or expertise, but rather of our imagination, courage and national resolve.

The pandemic has escalated this education crisis into an emergency. Unprecedented learning deprivation, student dropout, increasing child labour, malnutrition, early marriages due to unthinking prolonged school closures are devastating our country and will set us back by decades. This is the time to massively increase funding of public education, to renew and revitalize it, with a clear focus on the disadvantaged and marginalized: rebuild school infrastructure, fill teacher vacancies, bring children back to school, flood schools with a variety of learning materials and teaching resources, and facilitate community engagement.

This issue is an alert on Education Financing, featuring the NCEE Policy Tracker, which graphically analyses the education financing across different states, warnings of eminent experts on Education Finance, recent research on Indian education budgets and media articles.
Policy Tracker on Financing Education
State-wise information on education budgets for 2020-21 and 2021-22
Map 1: Education budget allocations vis-à-vis original budget estimates in 2020-21.
Map 2: Education budget allocations 2020-21 vs. 2021-22.
Map 3: Percentage of income allocated to education in 2020-21.
Clarion call from Indian Education Finance experts

Prof. Jandhyala BG Tilak
Distinguished Professor, Council for Social Development, Former Professor & Vice Chancellor, NUEPA; and ICSSR National Fellow.
“The pandemic has reminded us how important, long-term and sustained public funding of education is. For a long period, education sector has been subject to severe under-funding, resulting in voluminous cumulative investment deficit.  The pandemic provides compelling reasons not just to stop or reverse the trend, but to substantially scale up public expenditure on education in both union and state budgets.
There is a dire need for heavy investments - in teacher development in traditional and digital methods, in strengthening school infrastructure, including digital infrastructure. Children need robust mechanisms that recover losses in nutrition, provide socio-emotional support, rekindle interest in learning, de-addict them from digital devices, and bring them back to schools. Addressing learning gaps would require carefully planned approaches, curriculum restructuring, and provision of additional teaching-learning materials. Schools are not yet ready to ‘live with corona’, as no investment has been made in preparing the schools to fully reopen even after two years! The union and state governments need to recognise the urgency of making sustained heavy investment in public education. Unfortunately this is not yet visible.”

Dr. Jyotsna Jha
Director, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS)
“Our recent analysis of public expenditure on children during pre and post Covid19 phases in 14 Indian states clearly establishes that the pandemic has adversely impacted budgetary allocations of state governments, especially where caseloads were higher. Although most states have maintained the per child expenditure in nominal terms, it has largely remained static, which in real terms means a reduction in most cases. Education, which occupies two-third to three-fourth of child budets, has been devastated by the almost continuous school closure for nearly two years, needs huge budgetary increases. Evidence is clear that children have not accessed any education, or it has been highly inadequate. We not only need more money but also appropriate allocations for addressing the needs of resuming learning while addressing challenges from school closures: mental health, high drop-outs, early-marriage, child-labour and higher load on government school due to shifts from private schools that closed down during the pandemic.”

Prof. Praveen Jha
Centre for Economic Studies and Planning,
Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“Even pre-Covid19, education system had been confronting multiple challenges, lacunae in public policy, and serious paucity of resources. Almost 90% of elementary schools could not meet all RTE mandated norms, due to massive financing gaps. Budgetary deficits get further aggravated when we consider secondary and tertiary education. Even allowing differences across states with respect to financing, most large states, specially the so-called BIMARU, fare very poorly. Prof. Amartya Sen reminds us : India is the only large country that wants to become a `superpower` without paying serious attention to education and health!

The pandemic devastated this already disturbing landscape. Most public expenditure on education is incurred by states, and during the pandemic, they got trapped in a `pincer effect’ : contraction in revenues due to worsening economic situation, aggravated by delays in transfers from the Union government, and pressure to increase expenditure on urgent `life-and-death` concerns (including health expenses). Consequently, expenditure on education fell across several states in 2020-21 over 2019-20, even in nominal terms. GST has seriously constrained the states’ leeway in resource mobilization. All states must come together to demand that the Union government come forward with generous support for education, including fully using the Education Cess it collects.”

Dr. Dhir Jhingran
Founder & Executive Director, Language and Learning Foundation (LLF),
Formerly with Ministry of Education, Govt. of India & Govts. of Assam, Nepal.
“Allocation of funds to states under Samagra Shiksha (for school education) has suffered since 2019 - for most it has reduced. Fund releases have been slow in the first part of the financial year. When funds reach state governments in the last few months, there is pressure to spend and show utilization, resulting in inadequately planned implementation. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has planned to complete the Project Approval Board meetings for FY 2022-23 by April to ensure that implementation starts from the beginning of the year. Apart from timely releases from the Government of India, state governments, including Samagra Shiksha, Directorates of Education and SCERTs must plan their interventions in good time. MoE has asked states to plan for a 5-year perspective plan for Samagra Shiksha, a tall order in the short timeframe. State governments must do some strategic thinking and create a roadmap for crucial components like foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN), or for ICT, Science and Maths labs, which MoE is planning to provide to all secondary education institutions in the country.”
Media articles on Education Finance
Budgeting for the Education Emergency
“The disaster caused by the pandemic could be the opportunity to reverse the chronic under-funding of India’s public education system. Underlining the opacity of the education expenditure data in the country, Dr. Sajitha Bashir writes that the budget allocation by the Central and State governments to education and its purposes should be a matter of public concern and debate."
Fund offline classes, not edtech, for school children, say activists
Complaining that there has been no effort from the central and state governments to address learning gaps and the increase in school dropouts, educationists have called for a better response to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Budget 2022: A year to revive education
The fiscal demands on the government last year resulted in a cut in the education budget. Janmejaya Sinha and Seema Bansal argue for a sharp rise in the allocation for education to ₹125,000 crore, an increase of about ₹32,000 crore.
Low Budget Allocations Severely Unjust to Children
India cannot afford to deprive the young, especially as the pandemic continues to threaten economic security of families. Budget 2023 should correct the spending cuts of the last two years, writes Bharat Dogra.
Research Studies on Education Budgets
Public Expenditure on Children
This report by the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS), Bangalore analyses public expenditure on children in the age-group of 0-18 yrs during the pre and post pandemic period. It argues for greater attention to their needs to build resilience and compensate for the losses they have suffered.
Samagraha Siksha Budget Briefs
This brief by the Centre for Policy Research uses government data to analyse Samagra Shiksha’s performance. It highlights that the last two years have seen a decrease in the quantum of funds approved for most states.
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Media articles are updated regularly and available on the Education Emergency site
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