Budget 2020

Budget 2020 | Pat for ‘Beti Padhao’ scheme comes in for flak

Figure it out: The Union Finance Minister said the scheme has yielded tremendous results.

Figure it out: The Union Finance Minister said the scheme has yielded tremendous results.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Finance Minister’s claim on the special initiative for girl children leads to uproar in Parliament during Budget presentation

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during Budget presentation on Saturday lauded the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme, which led to an uproar in Parliament. Though the Minister cited an increase in gross enrolment ratio of girls as being higher than that of boys to back her claim, activists point out that the enrolment of girls per se has seen a decline over the years.

“I am pleased to inform the House that ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ has yielded tremendous results. Gross enrolment ratio of girls across all levels of education is now higher than boys. At elementary level, it is 94.32% as against 89.28% for boys. At Secondary level, it is 81.32% as compared to 78%, At higher secondary level girls have achieved a level of 59.70% as compared to 57.54% for boys,” Ms. Sitharaman said in her speech.

However, the U-DISE data of 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 show that the gross enrolment ratio (GER) of girls at elementary and higher secondary levels has seen a decline, while at secondary level it rose only by 0.1%.

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For classes 1-8 the GER for girls in 2015-2016 was 95.90%, which dropped to 95.19%; for classes 9 and 10 there was a marginal increase from 80.10% to 80.29%. In classes 11-12 the GER for girls dropped from 56.07% to 55.91% in the same comparative period, notes Priti Mahara, Director, Policy Research and Advocacy, CRY.

Moreover, the entire budget for children as a proportion of the total budget has hit the lowest level in five years, falling to 3.16% of the total budget this fiscal, according to an analysis by CRY.

Last year, the children’s budget was 3.38% of the total budget. While there have been mounting concerns about safety of children and child sex abuse, especially after the Supreme Court took up the Muzaffarpur shelter abuse case, the child protection scheme of the Women and Child Development Ministry remains nearly stagnant with a paltry 1.1% increase — rising from ₹1,350 crore last fiscal to ₹1,500 crore.

The anganwadi programme under which the government provides supplementary nutrition to children between six months to six years has received an increase in allocation of 15%, going up from ₹17,704 crore to ₹20,532 crore; the POSHAN Abhiyaan or the Nutrition Mission has seen an increase of 8.7% from ₹3,400 crore to ₹3,699 crore.

School education has seen an allocation of ₹59,368 crore, an increase of 5% or ₹3,295.55 crore across three prominent schemes — Samagra Shiksha Abhiyaan, Kendriya Vidyalaya Samiti and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti.

For tribal children, the money for post-matric scholarship for ST students has been withdrawn. “The entire Budget registered an increase of 9%, but those for children increased by a measly 3.16%.”

“While there is an increase of 9.2% in the overall Union Budget from last year’s allocation, the corresponding increase in budget for children is only 4.8%, last year it was far better,” Ms. Mahara told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 12:35:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/budget-2020-pat-for-beti-padhao-scheme-comes-in-for-flak/article30715570.ece

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