The government spending on Early Childcare Education (ECE) is just 0.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a report published by an NGO.
The report also underlined that while India had committed, as per the New Education Policy (NEP), to achieving universal early childhood education by 2030, the same was not reflected in its financing.
The report was published by Save the Children, an NGO working for the protection of child rights and child abuse, and the CBGA (Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability).
It highlights that the average annual projected cost per child for quality ECE services ranges between Rs 32,531 (feasible cost) and Rs 56,327 (optimal cost). The report is being termed as a first-ever attempt to estimate the cost of universalising the ECE.
ALSO READ | Explained: Investing early for the right start to your child's education
It also mentioned that the Anganwadi Centre under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program has the lowest operational cost among all the selected ECE models.
Save the Children's India CEO Sudarshan Suchi said, “This report, built from our earlier work on “The Right Start” 2018 study, provides the much-needed evidence on the estimated financial resources to deliver quality ECE services to all children between the 3-6 year age group, and we look forward to supporting the government on evidence-based policy-making to make a lasting change for children in India."
The report stated that to speed up and achieve the universal ECE, the government must spend 1.5-2.2 per cent of the GDP. And to accomplish this target, as per the report, the first and foremost policy action required is a substantial increase in the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).
Given the limited resources of the States and the Centre, an increase in the GBS needs to be funded through a substantial increase in the country’s tax revenue.