VIJAYAWADA: The State Budget, presented by Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu in the Assembly for the financial year 208-19 on Thursday, has allotted Rs 24,185 crore for general education. Of this, Rs 21,612 crore has been allocated for secondary education and Rs 2,835 crore for higher education.
The budget has set aside Rs 40 crore for the development of infrastructure to each of the newly-established university in the state that include Adikavi Nannaya University, Rajamahendravaram, Dr. BR Ambedkar University, Kadapa, Srikakulam, Rayalaseema University, Kurnool, Urdu University, Kurnool, Yogi Vemana University, Kadapa and Vikrama Simhapuri University, Nellore.
An amount of Rs 20 crore has been proposed to be earmarked for Sri Padmavathi Mahila University, Tirupati, for providing hostel facility to students. Apart from extending the midday meal scheme to Intermediate students, the government has proposed to increase the number of eggs served as part of the scheme from the present three to five, in a week. According priority to quality of education at schools and colleges, the budget has allocated Rs 117 crore for establishing digital classrooms. An amount of Rs 377 crore has been proposed for development of vocational education at 126 Model Schools set up in the year 2016-17.
However, educationists are opposing what they called meagre budgetary allocations made for higher education. “Though the government has allocated over Rs 20,000 crore for education, the allocation percentage dipped from the previous year. The government only focussed on new universities and left out the prestigious universities. It is difficult for the universities to sustain themselselves in the self-financing mode. Also, there is no mention of funds for land acquisition for Central government institutions. Overall, the allocations for education sector are not encouraging,” said KS Lakshman Rao, former MLC.
The most prestigious project of the school education department, the Badikosta scheme, aimed at bringing down the dropout rate of girl students, has been allotted Rs 160 crore. The government has proposed to establish English labs at degree colleges to improve job opportunities for students. The government is keen to improve the infrastructure at degree colleges which include construction of new buildings, addition of new collections to the libraries and modernisation of laboratories. To improve the infrastructural and lab facilities at polytechnics, the government has proposed to increase the allocations from Rs 20 crore to Rs 158 crore in the year 2018-19.
The revised estimates for technical education in 2017-18 were over Rs 728 crore but in the year 2018-19, the allocations have been increased to Rs 818 crore. Similarly, in the current budget, the government has proposed Rs 2,160 crore for BC scholarships and fee reimbursements.
“It is unfortunate that the state’s literacy rate is still at 67% while the average literacy rate of the country stands at 74%. The allocations are meagre and we are not sure that the government would be able to complete the basic construction works of the proposed universities. We welcome extension of the midday meal scheme to Intermediate colleges,” said Noor Mohammad, SFI State president.