The Budget for education presented by the Union government neglects to address the critical issues of equitable development and fails to meet the needs of marginalized communities, alleged Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO).
“Regarding minority education scholarships, there was a massive cut of funds in merit-cum means scholarships from 365 to 44 crores, showing a callous attitude even after dropping the pre-metric and MANF scholarships. This was an onslaught on education and the dignity of minorities. After allocating Rs 900 crores for pre-metric scholarships in the previous Budget and then canceling them, it demonstrates a bias against minorities,” read the statement by Dr. Roshan Mohiddin, national secretary of SIO.
The whopping cut of funds to Madrasas from previous budgets shows the explicit agenda of the government towards minorities and their upliftment in education, the Muslim student group alleged.
The Budget for skill development programs like USTTAD and Nai Manzil declined from crores to Rs 10 lakh, it noted.
The budget allocated for research programs and free coaching for minorities also saw a drop of 50% from the previous Budget, which shows the apathetic behavior of the government, the SIO said.
The Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 1 February, according to the SIO, also fails to fulfill the significant gaps in knowledge created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused extended school and college closures, making the past few years challenging for students across the nation.
“It is appreciated that there was an increment in the education Budget, but it was less than the Kothari commission and NEP 2020’s recommendation of allocating 6% of GDP to the education Budget. Since 2019, the GDP proportion of education has been unchanged at 2.9%. However, the government spent less on education during the last two fiscal years than anticipated,” read the statement.
It went on to say: “Although the increase in funds allocated to school education is appreciable, the amount allocated to higher education, research, and development has not been appropriately addressed, which is crucial in shaping students and also leading to the migration of a large number of students and youth abroad.”
“The amount allocated to Kendriya Vidyalas is 200 times greater than the funds allocated to regular government schools. This shows an apparent dichotomy and raises a question of equality and equity in education,” according to the student group.
SIO said it welcomes the decision to increase nursing colleges, but provisions should be made for strengthening the existing colleges with modern equipment. “The district training centers for teachers and digital and physical libraries are good steps, but a question about their level of implementation arises. And there were no concrete measures in the present Budget towards raising the question of unemployment.”
The Muslim group asserted that it believes that the minority education Budget is an apparent injustice to minorities and that the Union government has taken no stand for its upliftment. “This myopic vision doesn’t bode well for the equitable development of the country.”