All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) termed the Union Budget for 2020-21 as brazenly anti-education and anti-student budget meant to accelerate the privatisation-commercialisation of education.
Sourav Ghosh, the General Secretary of AIDSO has said that “In the Union Budget for 2020-21, only Rs 99300 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for education. Shockingly, this has been pretended as an increased budget. But in reality, this budget expenditure for education has come down to 2.67% from 2.8% of the last year while it was 4.7% in the year 2013-14 i.e. before the BJP-led NDA government ascended to the power in the centre. Even a close observation will divulge that the union budget of this year includes Rs 42150 crore as support from ‘Madhyamik and UchhatarShikshaKosh’ and ‘PrarambhikShikshaKosh’ which is being levied on all central taxes as education cess and the central government will provide only Rs 57150 crore from Gross Budgetary Support. However, as a result of reduced budgetary allocation, we are witnessing a drastic funds-cut in different levels of education.
The finance minister has earmarked Rs 141 crore for college and university scholarships down from 2019-20 allocation of Rs 356 crore which was revised upwards to Rs 381 crore. Needless to say, it will lead to the scrapping of fellowships and support to the needy students.
National Mission on Teachers and teaching has seen a drastic reduction in budgetary allocation from Rs 130 crore of the last year to only Rs 50 crore in this year. Similarly, funds for teachers training and adult education has further reduced to Rs 110 crore from Rs 125 crore in the last year while it was Rs 422 crore in 2018-19. Naturally, this will tell upon the training and appointment of teaching staff in the educational institutions.
Budgetary allocation to the central universities has reduced from Rs 8287 crore of last year to Rs 7643 crore which will hamper the development of central universities particularly newly established central universities.
The research and innovation head has faced a 50-per cent cut compared to the last year budget i.e. from Rs 608.87 crore to Rs 307.40 crore. This will eventually spell disaster to the research ecosystem.
The All India Council for Technical Education will receive Rs 416 crore, as compared to Rs 458 crore announced in 2019-20 and technical education will suffer due to funds crunch.
In the plea to deal with the shortage of doctors, the government has also proposed for a special bridge course and attaching medical colleges with district hospitals on PPP model which will not only lead to the privatisation of the medical education and hospitals but also destroy the standard of healthcare delivery system.
In the budget, the finance minister proposes to start degree level full-fledged online education programme but slashed the budget of Digital India e-learning form Rs 579 crore of last year to Rs 444 crore. For obvious reasons, this will commercialise the online programme on one hand and deprive the people of real education on the other.
Amazingly, while no fund has been allocated for much-trumpeted SarvaShikshaAbhiyan and RashtriyaMadhyamikShikshaAbhiyan, funds for RashtriyaUchhatarShikshaAbhiyan has reduced to Rs 300 crore from Rs 2100 crore of the last year. As a result of which many projects started under these schemes will tend to collapse due to the unavailability of the funds.
In this fiscal year, the Budget allocation for the University Grants Commission (UGC) has earmarked to Rs 4693 crore which is only Rs 93 crore more than that of last year budget. But it is notable that the same budget for UGC was Rs 9315 crore in 2015-16. Simply anyone can imagine that how it has been affecting the grants to the institutions and de-subsidising the higher education.
Moreover, encouragement to external borrowings and foreign direct investment in education will further privatise and commercialise the education sector.
From aforesaid points, it can be presumed that the new education policy which is going to be announced by the central government will be the blueprint of privatisation, commercialisation, communalisation and centralisation of education overruling the opinion of the educationists, eminent citizens, guardians and students’ organisations.
Likewise, the government has clearly indicated once again that it has no answer to spiralling price rise, mounting unemployment, huge job loss and non-availability of the remunerative prices to the peasants though it has shown its kind-heartedness to the corporate houses in the name of ensuring ‘ease of doing business’.
Hence, AIDSO slams this anti-student, anti-education and anti-people Union Budget 2020-21 and calls upon the students in particular and people, in general, to protest against it.