Finance minister Arun Jaitley said that education is a priority area for the government and allocated Rs85,010 crore for education budget 2018 starting 1 April.
The budget allocation for 2018-19 is, however, less than 4% higher than the revised budget estimate of the current year. The 2017-18 budget estimate had pegged an outlay of Rs79,685.95 crore, which was later revised to Rs81,868 crore. Also the prevalent 3% education cess will be replaced with a 4% education and health cess. This will help the government garner Rs11,000 crore per annum from taxpayers.
From a thematic point of view, the Union budget focused on two key areas of education—integration and fiscal accountability.
INTEGRATION OF SCHEMES ON CARDS
The human resource development ministry is working on a plan to integrate several flagship school schemes including the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and teacher education. As of now, SSA and RMAS have a joint mandate to make school education universal.
On fiscal accountability part, Jaitley said the country is looking to spend Rs1 trillion to revitalize the infrastructure of higher educational institutions.
RISE – THE NEW SCHEME
In his Budget 2018 speech, Jaitley unveiled a new scheme called Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education or RISE.
The RISE scheme will be financed via a restructured higher education financing agency (HEFA) that is functioning for the last two months as a non-banking financial company. It aims to lend low-cost funds to government higher educational institutions. Right now HEFA is looking to raise Rs20,000 crore and Thursday’s announcement hikes this number to Rs1 trillion.
While HEFA was granted a budgetary allocation of Rs250 crore in fiscal year 2018, in FY19, the lending body will be provided a budget of Rs2,750 crore.