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Govt spending on social service increases significantly amid pandemic: Economic Survey Economic Survey
Image Credit: UNI

Govt spending on social service increases significantly amid pandemic: Economic Survey

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 31 Jan 2022, 05:12 pm

New Delhi: The government’s spending on Social Services increased significantly during the pandemic states the Economic Survey 2021-22.

The Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2021-22 in the Parliament here today. 

An increase of 9.8% has been made in the expenditure allocation to the Social Services sector in 2021-22 over 2020-21.

Social Sector Expenditure 

The Survey states that the Centre and the State governments earmarked an aggregate of Rs. 71.61 lakh crore for spending on social service sector in (BE) 2021-22.

Last years’ (2020-21) revised expenditure has also gone up by Rs. 54,000 crore from the budgeted amount.

The Economic Survey further elaborates that in 2021-22(BE), funds to the sector increased to 8.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as compared to 8.3% of GDP in 2020-21 (RE).

During the last five years, Social Services accounted for about 25% of the total Government expenditure. In 2021-22 (BE), it was 26.6%.

The Economic Survey also notes that expenditure on health sector increased from Rs. 2.73 lakh crore in 2019-20 to Rs. 4.72 lakh crore in 2021-22 (BE), an increase of nearly 73%. For the education sector, increase during the same period was 20%, says the Survey.

Education

An assessment for the pre pandemic year 2019-20 for which data is available reveals that the number of recognized schools and colleges continues to increase between 2018-19 and 2019-20, except for primary and upper primary school, the Survey states.

Priority to drinking water and sanitation in schools under the Jal Jeevan Mission, Swatchh Bharat Mission as well as under Samagra Sikhsha Scheme have been instrumental in providing required resources and creating assets in schools, notes the Economic Survey.

As on 19.01.2022, under Jal Jeevan Mission 8,39,443 schools were provided tap water supply. Further, availability of teachers has improved at all levels continuously from 2012-13 to 2019-20.

The Survey observes that the year 2019-20 also saw a decline in drop-out rates at primary, upper primary and secondary levels. In 2019-20, school dropout rate at primary level declined to 1.45% from 4.45% in 2018-19.

The decline is both for boys and girls. The decline has also reversed the trends of increasing drop-out rates during the previous two years.

The Economic Survey further states that the year 2019-20 saw an improvement in Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at all levels and improvement in gender parity. In 2019-20, 26.45 crore children were enrolled in schools.

This has helped to reverse the declining trend of GER between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

During the year schools enrolled about 42 lakh additional children out of which 26 lakhs were in primary to higher secondary levels and 16 lakhs were in pre-primary as per Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISF+).

Gross enrolment ratio in higher education recorded at 27.1% in 2019-20, slightly higher from 26.3% in 2018-19.

The Economic Survey states that the Government has taken multiple initiatives at revolutionizing the higher education eco-system such as amendment to National Apprenticeship Training Scheme, Academic Bank of Credit, e PGPathshala, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan and scholarship for weaker sections.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on education system affecting lakhs of schools and colleges across India notes the Survey.

The Survey observes that it is difficult to gauge the real time impact of repeated lockdown on education sector because the latest available comprehensive official data dates back to 2019-20. It refers to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021 which has assessed the impact during the pandemic for education sector in rural areas.

ASER found that despite the pandemic enrolment in age cohort of 15 to 16 years continue to improve as number of ‘not enrolled’ children in this age group declined from 12.1 % in 2018 to 6.6 % in 2021.

However, ASER report also found that during pandemic, children (age 6-14 years) ‘not currently enrolled in schools’ increased from 2.5 % in 2018 to 4.6 % in 2021. To identify out of school children, their mainstreaming, and research sharing, the Government has shared the Covid-19 action plan with States and UTs observes the Survey.

The ASER report also found that during pandemic children in rural areas have moved out of Private to Government schools in all age groups.

Possible reasons suggested for the shift are: shut down of low cost private schools, financial distress of parents, free facilities in Government schools and families migrating back to villages. In July 2020, the Government has issued guidelines for mainstreaming of children of migrant labourers, allowing for their smooth admissions into schools without asking for any document other than identity notes the Survey.

Although the availability of smart phones has increased from 36.5% in 2018 to 67.6 % in 2021, the ASER report states that students in lower grade found it difficult to do online activities compared to higher grade students.

Non availability of smart phones for child to use and network of connectivity issues where the challenges faced by children.

However, almost all enrolled children have been provided textbooks for their current grade (91.9%). This proportion has increased over the last year, for children enrolled in both government and private schools.

The Economic Survey observes that steps have been taken by the Government to minimize the adverse impact of the pandemic on the education system to address the concern raised through private studies undertaken during the pandemic period.

Government took measures such as distribution of text books at home, telephonic guidance by teachers, online and digital content through TV and Radio, TARA interactive chatbot, activity based learning through the Alternative Academic Calendar released by National Council of Education Research and Training etc.

Other major initiatives for students during the Covid-19 pandemic include, PM e-Vidya, National Digital Education Architecture, NIPUN Bharat Mission etc, notes the Survey.

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