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How Has Budget 2024 Affected The Education Sector?

Budget 2024

With the unveiling of the Interim Budget 2024 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the spotlight on its implications for the education sector has intensified. Examining the trends over the past three years reveals a consistent downward trajectory in education allocations, and each year brings shifts in focus. Contrary to expectations, the FY 24-25 allocation for education has decreased by 7%, standing at ₹1.2 lakh crore, deviating from the highest-ever allocation of ₹1.29 lakh crore in FY 23-24.

The Department of School Education is set to receive ₹73,000 crore, while Higher Education faces a 16% reduction, settling at ₹47,619.77 crore. Although the National Education Policy 2020 aims for a 6% GDP allocation to education, this benchmark is yet to be met in the budget, as noted by experts. Finance Minister Sitharaman, in her Budget 2024 speech, emphasized accomplishments such as the Skill India Mission’s training of 1.4 crore youth and the establishment of various institutions of higher learning, including IITs, IIITs, IIMs, AIIMS, and universities. However, despite this progress, experts stress the need for a continued focus on expanding the number of institutions and enhancing educational quality.

Budgetary allocations for World Class Institutions for Institutions of Eminence (IoE) increased to Rs 1,800 crore in 2024-25, with a rise in funds for research and innovation from Rs 210.61 crore to Rs 355 crore. Additionally, the allocation for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan saw a marginal increase from Rs 37,453.47 crore to Rs 37,500 crore. The 2023 budget introduced a national digital library for children and adolescents, building on the 2018 initiative by former HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, now operational under IIT Kharagpur.

While the rise in higher education institutions is promising, experts argue for an increased emphasis on both quantity and quality. The budget’s push toward flexibility and a multidisciplinary approach, particularly in low-resource schools, is crucial for preparing children for the future and realizing the vision outlined in the National Education Policy 2020. The need for continued investment and strategic allocation remains paramount to shape a resilient and forward-thinking education ecosystem.

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