Education gets a major fillip in Delhi Budget

NEW DELHI: Education got the biggest chunk of budget funds for the second consecutive year, with the government intent on improving student services and infrastructure in Delhi. There will be 10,000 new classrooms in the coming year, while government high schools will get 400 new libraries. The government also announced early childhood education centres and five schools of excellence with English as their medium of instruction. The budget, however, remained silent on the major challenge of teachers' recruitment.

Education accounted for Rs 11,300, or 23.5% of the total budget outlay, nearly a percent higher than in 2016-17. This took into account revenue expenditure of Rs 10,186 crore and capital expenditure of Rs 1,114 crore. "The education sector continues to be the highest priority of our government ... This indicates our firm commitment to improve quality education in Delhi government schools," said finance minister Manish Sisodia while presenting the budget in the assembly.

The allocations will facilitate all-round improvement in student services, be it in the upgrading of computer laboratories, for which the sum earmarked is Rs 182 crore, the setting up of school libraries, new schools and classrooms, improved mid-day meal or the introduction of commerce in 142 senior secondary schools that didn't offer this stream earlier.

However, the budget was criticised for ignoring the basic requirement of the education system: recruitment of an adequate number of teachers. In this context, Ambarish Rai of the Right to Education Forum rated the budget "so-so". He pointed out, "There are 27,000 vacancies that need to be filled. The government has neither addressed this issue nor made a commitment to recruit more teachers."

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it is welcomeSaranathan Lakshminarasimhan

Rai said that the decision to give computer tablets to teachers would merely make them happy, not enhance the quality of teaching. The plan to revamp the two District Institutes of Education Training and to start a teacher training centre in Ambedkar University were not robust enough measures to train the required number of teachers in the capital. "To begin with, we need decentralised institutions at cluster levels. We need to provide the teachers a regular support system of training centres linked with quality education," he said.

The proposal for the five new English-medium schools of excellence and the early childhood education centres also came in for criticism. As one critic said, "The childhood centres are just another way to open the doors for private players to enter the education sector. The government should have focused instead on reviving anganwadi centres."

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