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Maharashtra’s Education Budget Sees 9.8% Surge Amidst Concerns Over Allocation Distribution & Scheme Cutbacks

The education sector in Maharashtra has witnessed a notable 9.8% increase in budget allocation for the interim period of 2024-25, with figures rising from Rs 87,314 crore to Rs 95,875 crore compared to the previous year. However, despite this surge, concerns have emerged over the distribution of allocations and cutbacks in flagship schemes.

While both school and higher education departments have experienced a boost in funding, a significant portion of the hike is attributed to routine expenditures, particularly salaries for teachers and staff. Notably, expenditure on some key education schemes has been reduced, raising apprehensions about the state’s educational development trajectory.

Of particular concern is the reduction in budgetary provisions for reimbursing private schools for admitting socio-economically disadvantaged students. This allocation has dwindled from Rs 200 crore to Rs 173 crore, aggravating grievances from schools claiming outstanding dues amounting to Rs 2,400 crore.

Moreover, reductions in the state’s contributions to centrally sponsored schemes like midday meals and Samagra Shiksha have been recorded, despite recent initiatives such as introducing eggs in school meals. However, the budget does allocate Rs 81 crore towards the PM SHRI scheme aimed at upgrading schools in alignment with the New Education Policy.

Finance Minister Ajit Pawar’s budget speech outlined plans for youth skill development initiatives, including the establishment of international skill development centers and various training programs. However, actual allocations for these schemes were notably absent from the budget document, raising questions about their implementation.

Despite these concerns, there are pockets of positive developments, such as the increased subsidy for the Dr. Zakir Hussain Madrasa Modernization Scheme, aimed at integrating minority students into the mainstream education system. Additionally, measures to address uniformity in scholarships and fellowships for marginalized communities have been articulated, addressing previous criticisms regarding fellowship provisions for doctoral pursuits.

 

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