The emphasis on education, with an impetus on skill development, and the allocations made therein will change its course in the coming years
Dr Manasvi M Kamat
The Goa State Budget 2020 was presented with an estimated revenue surplus of Rs 354 crore in 2020-21. The last Budget 2019-20 was presented with a revenue surplus of Rs 455 crore but the ensuing Budget has revised the figures and brought it down to Rs 270 crore.
Goa State Budget 2020-21 emphasises on education, with an impetus on skill development, don’t mind the speech document not recognising them as the ‘budget priorities’. Increasing the retirement age for Anganwadi workers till 62 has provided much relief to the knowledge workers, whereas the plan to recruit 1200 policemen will bring a sigh of relief to those unemployed without much education.
The announcement of flagship initiatives like the CM’s apprentice training scheme, development of new educational programmes, and proposal to lay the red carpet for private educational institutions in the State will certainly change the course of education in the State in the coming years.
Forming new-age institutions like the Goa Institute of Futuristic Transformation, National Law School, Ayush Mental Health Care Clinic, Forest Research and Training Institute at Valpoi and Competitive Examination Guidance Centre will boost the educational roadmap; while setting up of skill centres in association with the National Skill Development Corporation, completion of Ashram School project at Canacona, up-gradation of Forensic Science Laboratory, Sanjay School Complex at Curchorem and a new District Library at Mapusa, will add further academic vibrancy much needed for Goa as an ‘educational hub’.
Most section of the Budget Speech relating to the education sector was in public domain through numerous populous announcements; it was heartening to see some tangible provisions being made in the Budget documents. The government seemed to be serious about most of the schemes as the Budget ensured some financial provisioning made for most of them. Further, not many announcements lacked financial allocations, with regards to education at least; avoiding the risk of Budget being called as a ‘callous’ exercise.
General Education has been provided in the budget with Rs 1751 crore towards the capital and revenue expenditure, against a figure of Rs 1624 crore for last year. Technical Education received Rs 136 crore, up from budgeted Rs 122 crore for the last year but the most sizeable increase has been for Higher Education with a provision of whopping Rs 483 crore for the ensuing year. The Higher Education Directorate in the last budget was provided a figure of Rs 411 crore, which is now revised at Rs 419 crore.
Out of the total funds provided for Higher Education, Rs 414 crore is allocated for general education, up from RE of Rs 358 crore. The ‘capital outlay on education, arts and sports’ charged under Higher Education has increased from Rs 58 crore to a new allocation to Rs 66 crore. The area of Skill Development has received a considerable 26 per cent higher allocation compared to the past Budget, the Goa Medical College received 16 per cent higher; the Directorate of Higher Education secured 15 per cent more. Relatively it was School Education department that got lower allocation of less than 10 per cent compared to the last Budget.
The announcement of the ‘CM’s Apprentice Scheme’ was sweet news. Though the provision of Rs 5 crore has not been adequate to yield desired results given the nature and magnitude of unemployment in Goa, it also can’t be called unsatisfactory as provision will at least set the skill development ball rolling. The other new initiative is ‘Teacher Industrial Apprentice Program’ aimed at teachers getting the benefit of industrial exposure and to understand the skill-gap requirements of the industry. Thirdly, the BPL, SC/ST, PD youth enrolled for apprentice are now promised a stipend of Rs 600 per month while the SC/ST students can get a tool kit worth Rs 2500.
The Budget spoke about MoUs between MSME and the ITIs. Budget indicated its intention to start new programs on Multimedia, Animation and Special Effects. New full-fledged professional post-graduate programmes like the M-Arch in Urban Design and Sustainable Habitat, MA in Clinical Psychology were announced paving the way for better future-study options in the State.
The Budget reiterated the earlier decision of the government to start the ‘Manohar Parrikar School of Governance’ that will enable students undertake study undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral programs in Law, Governance and Tribal development. To see this dream realise, the capital outlay for sports, education and arts under the capital expenditure head of Higher Education, a sum of Rs 8 crore seems to have been provided. In addition to the above the budget spoke of ‘Tourist Guide Support Scheme’ to augment self-employment, building a hostel for PG dental students, and MoU with STPI for setting up of an incubation centre at Dona Paula.
The ‘Goa Scholar Scheme’ has got a meagre and a namesake increase from Rs 3.5 crore to Rs 3.8 crore. Total grants to all professional government colleges put together slightly has increased from Rs 61.43 to Rs 65.44 crore while for non-professional government colleges, the allocation is up by only Rs 5 crore to Rs 22.9 crore, and almost all of this goes into salaries. Though the increase makes a way for new teaching and non-teaching recruitments in those colleges, nothing remains for development of the carrying capacity.
On a negative note, the State Council for Higher Education which was budgeted with Rs 1.09 crore last year, underwent a downward revision to Rs 89.40 lakh. This move is unwelcome at a point when this Council should have been newly formulated and strengthened. The ‘Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes’ is down from Rs 32 to 24 lakh, and the tribal area sub-plan from Rs 77 lakh to Rs. 43 lakh. Similarly, the ‘Grants for Development of Labs’ is down from Rs 3.00 to Rs 1.81 crore, ‘Scheme for Popularisation of Science Education’ down from Rs 84 lakh to Rs 70 lakh. The ‘Special Coaching for SC/ST/OBC’ now gets less from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 8 lakh, the ‘Grant-in-aid for Development of Infrastructure for Professional aided Colleges’ is down from Rs 90 lakh to 80 lakh. The amount of Rs 72 lakh allotted last year to ‘Academic Development of Government and Aided Colleges’ is now cut down to Rs 61 lakh. Worst, the ‘State Incentive to Meritorious Teachers and Institutions’ has got less at Rs 60 lakh compared to Rs 90 lakh budgeted last year.
To compensate for the above, more funds have been allocated for setting up of Modern Library, up from Rs 13 lakh allocated last year to Rs 28 lakh for next year. The ‘Grants for Bursary Scheme’ is now up from Rs 3.30 crore to Rs. 3.90 crore, while plan (salary) expenditure to Goa College of Music is revised from Rs 2.72 crore to Rs 3.18 crore will help fill up backlog vacancies.
Though it was unfortunate to see that the areas like skill development, provision of jobs, development of innovation, and entrepreneurship were not on the ‘high ranked agenda’ (thrust areas) in the Budget, these vital subjects received considerable attention. Enhancing ease of doing business, ease of living, uplifting mining and tourism were remarked to be the ‘aims’ of the Budget, but it is skill development and higher education, that unknowingly received the spotlight.