Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[op-ed of the day] Time to prioritise education and health

Context

The policy currently being pursued is intended primarily to incentivise potential investors while social objectives and help in indigenisation are being jettisoned.

Call for more liberalisation and its possible impacts

  • What reforms are asked for?
    • Reforms such as labour market liberalisation and removal of constraints on the acquisition of land for industrial purposes are demanded.
  • What could be their possible impacts?
    • The negative impact such reform measures are likely to have on the incomes, living conditions and the economic security of the workers and the agricultural class.
    • Counterproductive labour policy: The policy of freedom of hiring and firing of labour will be counterproductive as it would squeeze demand further in a situation of huge demand deficit.

Social sector and demand

  • Neglect of human infrastructure: While talks of economic revival focus on infrastructure there is little talk of investment in human infrastructure, particularly in education and 
    • Conditional expenditure: On the contrary, the expenditure in social sectors is made conditional upon a higher rate of growth
    • The flawed premise of long term impact: Most mainstream economists believe that public expenditure in social sectors can only have a long- term impact on growth. Which is not entirely correct.
  • The benefit of investment in human infrastructure:
    • Increases demand in short-run: Investment in social sectors results in creating demand in the short run by way of opening avenues for large-scale employment.
    • Competitiveness and sustainability: It imparts competitiveness and sustainability to the Indian economy in the medium and long run.
  • Example of RTE, teacher employment and demand creation
    • The recruitment of 5.7 million additional teachers over a period of, say, five years, can create huge scale demand.
    • And, this is only one factor essential for universalising quality school education.
    • There is also a large gap between the requirement of infrastructure in the schools and that available and built recently.
    • The gap between requirement and availability: According to government data, only 12.5% of the schools covered by the RTE Act were compliant with RTE norms.
    • Meeting these norms has the potential of creating employment on a large scale.
  • Importance of health and education
    • Education has a crucial role to play for an individual in gaining employment and retaining employability.

Conclusion

The gestation period of projects in social sectors is not as long as it is made out to be. It is, therefore, time for reprioritising education and health in the scheme of development strategy and the allocation of budgetary resources.

 

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