Professor Geeta Kingdon from the Department of Education Economics and International Development at the Institue Of Education (IOE), University of London has suggested that UK education aid has contributed to India’s opportunities for underprivileged school children. Recently, there has been controversy in the press regarding the UK Government’s commitment of £1 billion to support educational provision in India over a five year period.
Professor Kingdon has responded to the controversy regarding this programme by stating that:
“While high economic growth rates in India have been cited as a reason for ending UK aid, India’s alarmingly high malnutrition levels have failed to improve during the recent period of rapid economic growth. According to the National Family Health Surveys in both 1998 and 2006, 46% of children under the age of five were underweight.”
Geeta Kingdon’s backing of this programme was further demonstrated last month when she argued that positive progress in India is also due to DFID’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) education programme. Even though DFID’s backing to the Indian Education System constitutes only 3% of SSA total spending, Professor Kingdon argues:
“This tiny amount can nevertheless provide the research and data base, put evidence on the table, sponsor surveys, sponsor research studies, and have conferences to inform Indian policymakers about international findings on these issues. It can permit analysis for India itself, and put that before the Indian Government so that policy on these issues is not based on hunch or opinion or ideology or political expediency, but based on evidence. Enabling capacity development and facilitating more informed policy making will be the major value added of UK aid to India”.
Gaeta Kingdon’s beliefs were reaffirmed by Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, who confirmed last week on 14th February that until 2015 the UK Government has committed £280 million of aid in support of Education in India.
Image courtesy of Pratham Books