Education: State, Concurrent or Union List?

Jul 04, 2024

Current Affair 1:


The Government of India Act, 1935 during the British rule created a federal structure for the first time in our polity. The legislative subjects were distributed between the federal legislature (present day Union) and provinces (present day States). Education which is an important public good was kept under the provincial list. After independence, this continued and education was part of the ‘State list’ under the distribution of powers.

After Emergency:

However, during the Emergency, the Congress party constituted the Swaran Singh Committee to provide recommendations for amendments to the Constitution. One of the recommendations of this committee was to place ‘education’ in the concurrent list in order to evolve all-India policies on the subject. This was implemented through the 42nd constitutional amendment (1976) by shifting ‘education’ from the State list to the concurrent list.

The Janata Party government led by Morarji Desai came to power after Emergency passed the 44th constitutional amendment (1978) tried to bring back ‘education’ to the State list but failed.

What are international practices?

  1. In the U.S., State and local governments set the overall educational standards, mandate standardized tests, and supervise colleges and universities.
  2. In Canada, education is completely managed by the provinces.
  3. In Germany, the constitution vests legislative powers for education with landers (equivalent of States).
  4. In South Africa, provinces of the country have their education departments for implementing policies of the national departments.

Who does more expenditure on education: Centre or states?

Also, as per the report on ‘Analysis of Budgeted expenditure on Education’ prepared by the Ministry of Education in 2022, out of the total revenue expenditure by education departments in our country estimated at ₹6.25 lakh crore (2020-21), 15% is spent by the Centre while 85% is spent by the States. Even if expenditure by all other departments on education and training are considered, the share works out to 24% and 76% respectively.

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