Usually, it is difficult to dig out real data from Gujarat. All we hear and read is how Vibrant and progressive Gujarat is. But now the Central government itself has admitted that all is not well with education in Gujarat. In fact, despite all the hype, Gujarat fares worse than Uttar Pradesh also when it comes to education.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has informed the Loksabha that 20 of the 33 districts in Gujarat fall under the educationally backward category. This simply means that 61 percent of Gujarat’s districts do not meet the basic standards of education.
This, despite the Gujarat Government claiming that it had been constantly increasing its budgetary allocations to education, from Rs 31,955 crore in FY21 to Rs 32,719 crore in FY22 – a hike of Rs 764 crore.
But the devil is in the details. According to the State Budget documents accessed by Vibes of India, Gujarat has allocated just about an average 12% of the total budget to education during the last 5 years. In fact, the outlay has reduced or stagnated as a percentage of State GDP.
If it was 1.6% of the State GDP in 2017-2018, it was 1.4% in 2020-21 and estimated at 1.44% in 2021-22. In 2018-19 it was 1.78% and 1.45% in 2019-20. “And this also includes the pension and other retirement benefits of the teachers,” says an education department official, requesting anonymity.
Gujarat ranks sixth in the country in terms of percentage, and the situation in the State is worse than in Uttar Pradesh. This revelation comes in Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s reply to the Lok Sabha in its current session.
He stated that out of 374 districts in the country, 20 districts were identified as educationally backward in Gujarat alone. The districts were identified by an experts committee of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The committee identified these districts based on different aspects like Gross Enrollment Ratio, College-Population Ratio and Average Enrollment Per College, among other things.
The backward districts include four in North Gujarat namely Banaskantha, Mehsana, Sabarkantha and Patan; Dahod, Kheda and Panchmahal in Central Gujarat and Bharuch, Surat, Dang, Valsad and Narmada from South Gujarat. The list also includes Kutch.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Gujarat on September 5 to inaugurate the first phase of the School of Excellence Project at the cost of Rs 8,000 crore from the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.
As part of the first phase, the Excellence project will include upgradation of 20,000 primary schools in the State. In the first phase, four schools per taluka will be included in the School of Excellence. In the first 1000 days, 10,000 schools will be prepared as School of Excellence. As many more would be prepared in the next 500 days.
According to the percentage of educationally backward districts in India, Rajasthan tops with 91% districts, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 75%, Tamil Nadu 71%, Bihar 66%, Gujarat 61% and Uttar Pradesh 56% . It must be noted that Rajasthan which has the highest number of educationally backward districts is ruled by Congress while majority of other States that top the list of educationally backward districts like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh are BJP ruled States. Bihar has a BJP-JDU government while Tamilnadu has DMK government.