‘Allocations not enough for education, disability’

Updated - February 02, 2017 08:00 am IST

Published - February 01, 2017 11:27 pm IST

Photo used for representational purpose only

Photo used for representational purpose only

Mumbai: Allocations in the Union Budget for education, disability and child development are not enough, say those working in these sectors.

This year, child development gets ₹71,305.35 crore, up from ₹65,758.45 crore in the previous Budget. Komal Ganotra, director, policy and advocacy, Child Relief and You (CRY), said this allocation has been stagnant for the past 15 years.

“The Union Budget has allocated only 3.32% of the total outlay for child development, while the need is for exponential increase,” she said, adding the National Plan of Action for Children 2016 recommends at least 5% of the Union Budget be spent on schemes and programmes directly related to children.

While the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme — it caters to the care, nutrition and education of 13.9 crore children aged six and below — has received ₹1,245 crore more this year, Ms. Ganotra said the investment in children is similar to the 2012-13 Budget. “₹500 crore has been allocated for Mahila Shakti Centres. The ICDS reaches only 50% of children under the age of six, and this increase is enough to ensure universal coverage, let alone making Anganwadi-creches a reality,” she said.

The budget has barely focused on elementary education, Madhukar Banuri, who heads education at Pune City Connect, said. “The government could have consciously attempted to strengthen teacher education bodies through different schemes, primarily involving technology. Budget provisions for personalised learning for children using technology could have better encouraged schools and local bodies to integrate technology.”

The government also mentions measuring annual learning outcomes in this Budget, although with National Achievement Survey and State Level Achievement Survey in existence, “It will be interesting to see how this one will be different and the purpose it will serve,” she said.

Ms. Ganotra said the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan gets ₹1,305 crore more, which will be distributed among 10,80,757 elementary schools in India, while the education sector is struggling to meet Right to Education targets and fulfil gaps in teacher vacancy, infrastructure and quality learning. After a decrease in recent years, incentives for girls’ education have improved, with an increase of ₹275 crore for secondary education, she said.

For persons with disability, the only announcement this year was of 500 stations to be outfitted for their ease of movement. “But this is an old promise,” said Shilipi Kapoor, Founder of BarrierBreak, a city-based accessibility and assistive technology company. “There may be something in the larger Budget document, but that didn't come out in the speech.”

The new Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, passed last year, and the setting up of the new sign language research centre offer hope, but Ms. Kapoor said they were hoping to “hear more around disabilities in the budget”.

At the end of the day, every department needs money. If there is no budgetary allocation, there is no implementation of the law. “We don't know how to map this Budget to what they have been talking about on increasing accessibility.”

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