How much India spends on education: Hint, it’s less than rich countries’ average

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Published: November 22, 2019 3:15:01 PM

While a raging debate goes on whether JNU students should pay more for education and lodging, or should the state bear their expenses, a recent data shows that India’s public spending on education is far less than that in the rich countries.

Indian education budget, Despite India being one of the largest economies in the world, the nation’s public education spending doesn’t touch even the average of the amount spent by the rich club. (Express photo)

While a raging debate goes on whether Jawaharlal Nehru University students should pay more for education and lodging, or should the state bear their expenses, a recent data shows that India’s public spending on education is far less than that in the rich countries. Despite India being one of the largest economies in the world, the nation’s public education spending doesn’t touch even the average of the amount spent by the rich club. In OECD countries, over 11% of the total government spending went to education, on average. However in India, the same stood at 10.2% in 2016-17, centre and state combined, according to the latest Economic Survey.

In 2018-19, India’s educational spend had risen to 10.6% of the total government expenditure, the report showed. According to OECD’s latest findings, India lags behind several other nations such as the USA, Chile, Mexico, UK, Korea, Israel etc in terms of total educational costs. While India has chosen to not be a part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international organisation of rich countries, which says it works to build better policies for better lives, many other developed and developing economies are its active members. These countries include the UK, USA, Canada, Japan etc.

India’s public education spending has not been enough to either attract foreign talent to the country or develop indigenous top brains, a recent World Talent ranking report by IMD showed. India spends less on education per student, and the quality of education also remains dismal in the country with a big pupil-teacher ratio in primary and secondary education, according to the IMD report.

This has resulted in a massive dip in India’s world talent ranking and the country is just ahead of four other nations in attracting and retaining top talent. “India ranks 62nd in total public expenditure on education per student and measures of the quality of education (pupil-teacher ratio in primary and in secondary education,” IMD said. The country spent 3% of its total GDP on education in 2018-19 or about 5.6 lakh crore, the Economic Survey said. 

Meanwhile, students from India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, a world-renowned university, and one of the consistently highest-ranking universities by the National Institutional Ranking Framework, Government of India, are protesting against recent fee hike. The students have been arguing that education must be accessible to all and must not be only for the rich. Critics of the university students, however, have been of the opinion that taxpayers’ money should not go to freeloaders.

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