Union Budget Expectation (from Education Sector) Dr Silpi Sahoo, Chairperson, SAI International Education Group
India is soon to become a superpower with the existing thrust on the start-ups, fin-tech, & other science & technology innovations taking place, the foundation of which is quality education. It is needless to say that investment in education will see furtherance this year in transforming India into a technologically driven Global Education Hub.
Impetus on the Edtech Space
Given, the transcending trends in the Indian EdTech Space over the past few years, the youth of the country need to be adept with technical skills to be proficient drivers of the digital transformation of the country. Impetus on tech education, beyond just online learning, will equip a large part of the youth with industry relevant skills, with the hope to propel India’s economic growth further. Facilitating technical training of teachers in schools is imperative to consider.
Increasing the Budget Allocation
Proper utilisation of allocations this year would mark the beginning of changes mentioned in the NEP 2020. This could include providing free or subsidized tuition, upgrading school infrastructure, setting up scholarships & grants & involving technology-based learning. We can expect an elaborate focus & allotment towards revised learning methods like situated learning environment (SLE), vocation/internship (hard skills), and incentives for employers to invest in talent pipelines. By doing so, the government would be ensuring that no one is deprived of a quality education due to their socio-economic circumstances.
Reduction in GST
Introduction of legitimate tax benefits to further accelerate upskilling within the country should be taken into consideration. The GST on educational services should be reduced from 18% to 5%. A robust framework to lower the cost of higher education while also granting applicants with higher rebates and deductions in tax calculations shall make upskilling a mainstream phenomenon. Removing GST in upskilling programs to make it easier for students to pursue higher education, such as scholarships and loan schemes.
Forge Stronger Connections Between Economic Opportunity & Education System
Given 67% of graduates struggle with placements, allocating funds to new endeavours that help in reinventing the educational sector in 21st century by integrating learning & working, will give a huge ROI for both learners, employers & society at large. These are expected to provide a boost to the education system in India and help create a better-educated workforce.
Collaborations with Foreign Universities
Facilitating formal partnerships with eminent universities abroad to offer online and hybrid degree programs in order to achieve the Gross Enrolment Ratio targets set by the government is relevant to consider this year.
Focus on Girl Child Education
Even in the year 2022, the percentage of girls (age: 11-16) enrolment in urban schools still remains a stooping 23.5%. The budget should have a stipulated allocation towards policies to promote a larger percentage of girl education, in the form of scholarships & tax exemptions & more to achieve the gender-based targets as set by NEP 2020.
Attention to Mental Well-being Schemes
With transcending academic pressure & increased screen time with almost each approaching year, it is important to consider allocating some section of funds for wellness schemes & programs by qualified professionals to provide students them with the apt guidance & support & will act as a valuable resource to help students learn coping strategies & build resilience, thereby creating a conducive environment for learning.