In FY24, an average of 14.7 percent of the Budget of an Indian State was allocated to education. However, data from PRS Legislative Research’s State of State Finances 2023-24, indicate that all five States in South India allocated less than this percentage to education.

Telangana allocated the lowest proportion of its Budget to education among the top 20 States — 7.6 per cent. The State allocated ₹18,955 crore. Karnataka, on the other hand, allocated 11 per cent of its total expenditure (₹33,271 crore). Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu also budgeted 12.6 per cent, 14 per cent and 14.1 per cent of their expenditures for education.

Telangana is among the States that have presented their Budgets for FY25. The latest Budget, too, has allocated just 7.75 per cent of the total education expenditure. However, in absolute numbers, it has grown to ₹21,389 crore. 

However, experts say that numbers alone won’t tell the whole story. The founder-director of the Center of Policy Research and Governance, Ramanand Nand, says: “One major reason behind the North Indian states surpassing the overall expenditure of the South Indian States is that in States like Delhi or Haryana, the government has been advertising that they have been doing a lot of development to improve the education sector. This pressurises other North Indian States to allocate a hefty sum to their education Budget.”

At the same time, he adds that States in the South do not have that pressure. “They have been progressively giving money to the education sector, hence their Gross Enrolment ratio and Pupil-Teacher Ratio is better despite a low educational allocation,” he adds.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are also States such as Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, whose education spending has been the highest in India — 19.5 per cent and 19.4 per cent, respectively. While Rajasthan allocated ₹57,953 crore, Chhattisgarh budgeted ₹23,493 crore.

High GER, high PTR

Despite a low allocation, the recently released All India Survey of Higher Education shows that South Indian States have a higher Gross Enrolment Ratio. The Gross Enrolment Ratio is the number of students enrolled in higher education as a percentage of the eligible population aged 18 to 23.

Tamil Nadu tops the list with a GER of 47 per cent. It is 41.3 per cent in Kerala and 40 per cent in Telangana, which are among the top five States in terms of GER. 

The Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) for Higher Education too is high in the southern states. In the ‘regular mode’ category among all the institutions, the all-India average PTR is 23 (one teacher for 23 students). The ratios in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala are 14:1, 15:1 and 15:1.