While everyone went gaga over the almost 12% increase in the education budget, people seemed to ignore some glaring numbers.
The increase is after a reduction in the previous year due to Covid. The actual increase in education budget has been only 60% in the last 10 years while the total budget has increased by 170%
Comparison with Other Countries:
India spends about 3-3.5% of the GDP on education. Compared to developed countries, this number isn’t the most attractive. USA spends 5% while Canada, Japan and Germany spend 5.5%, 3.6% and 4.8% respectively with much larger GDPs and lower populations. Developing countries too actually spend higher with China, Brazil, and Argentina spending 4%, 6.2%, and 5.5% respectively. Experts say that the number should ideally be around 6% for India. In fact, India ranks a dismal 144/198 countries in this regard.
The Age Factor:
As countries develop, their average life expectancy and the median age of the country go up. India is a young country (Ranked 87/230) with a median age of about 28. China was near this number around in around 2000 while USA and Canada were around it back in 1970-80s. The average life expectancy in India is a notch below 70 while in developed countries, the number hovers somewhere between 75 and 83. These numbers as you’d have guessed are aligned with the world median age numbers which are constantly increasing due to better healthcare as well.
One would like to believe that education would/should be an important priority especially in younger countries. A lot of fast growing economies like Brazil have increased their expenditure on education in the recent years; South Africa with a median age of 27 in fact spends around 7% on education. We are seeing a lot of African countries (predominantly young countries) do the same.
Education which used to be the 4th priority a decade back, is currently at 8th priority in the union budget allocation.
The Dilution of Quality & Excessive Competition:
Developed countries are worried about their ageing population. That’s one of the prime reasons why you see countries like Canada being encouraging towards fresh Indian graduates and post-graduates for starting jobs there. This unfortunately means that the cream of educated youth of the country would be siphoned off to countries with more resources and capital, hence reducing quality.
A lot of big names have controversially pointed out the unemployability of Indian people. During my days of recruitment I have come across Engineers who lack basic arithmetic skills of calculating percentages! One might wonder if the low expenditure on quality education might be a reason for that.
In India we recruit based on the exam cleared and not on the education received. We get blinded by the growth received by the students from IITs who make a mere 0.6% of the total engineering prospects each year.
That’s the reason why majority Engineers are recruited by companies and then taught whatever they please. They are recruited for their IQ and ability to learn, and maybe their experience of 4 years in college, but definitely not for what they were taught academically. Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella were not CS Engineers! Teachers are some of the most underpaid individuals in the country and to think they are the sculptors of the future pillars of this country, should be a cause of some wonderment. There definitely is a gap to be filled and that is shown to be true by the meteoric rise in the Ed-Tech and Education companies in our country.
A consistent feature in all developed countries is a strong public education system. India is at the cusp of multiple revolutions in all fields given it’s growth rate and potential. It is imperative that we train the youth of the country well to let them become the Ignited Minds our beloved former President envisioned.