The Karnataka budget 2019 again comes as a big disappointment, and is nowhere close to our expectations. Recycling the same old promises for the school education sector, it is nothing but old promises in the new budget book.
Inadequate allocation for school education shows that the state government is abdicating its responsibility of building a strong public education system, strengthening government schools and holistic implementation of the RTE Act 2009 to provide equitable quality education to all children, without discriminating among rural and urban children.
The Chief Minister spoke much about the education of the rural poor, but everything ended in naught when it came to commitment in the budget. The budget again failed to provide the long-pending demand of minimum 20% of its total budget for school education -- a mere allocation of Rs 28,151 crore (a negligible increase of Rs 1,570 crore over the previous year) for primary, secondary and higher education.
Around 11% of the total budget is grossly inadequate to universalise education from pre-primary to secondary level, in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the new central scheme called Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
The budget allocation has dipped from 12.19% last year to 12% this year. The CM, who was praising the Delhi government for its reforms in school education, should know that the Delhi government allocated 26% of its budget for education.
It has also failed to address key issues like the huge number of ‘out of school’ children (70,000 as per a recent census), around 28,000 vacancies of teachers, 72,000 classrooms that require repairs, and closure/merger of government schools due to inadequate infrastructure and lack of subject-wise teachers.
Instead of making concrete provision for appointment of teachers, the budget talks about appointing estate officers to maintain buildings. With such a meagre budget, the government will not be able to ensure fulfilment of provisions of the RTE Act, let alone provide good quality education to rural poor children, as dreamt by the CM. The commitment to universalize secondary education by 2030 will also remain a distant dream.
Niranjanaradhya V P
Senior Fellow and Programme Head, NLSIU Domestic Workers' Forum