The unprecedented contractions put forth by the COVID-19 crisis have changed several aspects of the Indian economy in their entirety. The education sector saw rapid changes because of the need for digitization. Sadly, not everyone was able to keep up with the speed of digitization that was required.
Hence, a good proportion of our student population as well as unprepared youth have missed out in the last year.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman´s Union Budget for 2021 has proposed many changes, keeping in mind the challenges being faced by people at the grass-roots level. The Budget has focused primarily on innovation and R&D.
Following are the highlights of the budget announcement regarding the education sector:
- More than 15,000 schools to be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of the National Education Policy.
- A target of establishing 750 Eklavya model residential schools in tribal areas, increasing the unit cost of each school from INR 20 crores to INR 38 crores, and for hilly and difficult areas, to INR 48 crores.
- Proposal to realign the existing scheme of National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) for providing post-education apprenticeship, training of graduates and diploma holders in engineering, with over INR 3,000 crores allocated.
- For the National Research Foundation established in 2019, the outlay will be of INR 50,000 crores, over 5 years.
- A partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to benchmark skill qualifications, assessment, and certification, accompanied by the deployment of certified workforce.
- A collaborative Training Inter Training Program (TITP) between India and Japan to facilitate transfer of Japanese industrial and vocational skills, technique, and knowledge.
- The capital expenditure, estimated in RE is INR 4.39 lakh crores in 2020-2021 as against INR 4.12 lakh crores in BE 2020-21.
- The Higher Education Commission of India will be implemented this year. It will be an umbrella body with four separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding.
The Tech Panda gathered the reactions, both positive and negative, of several EdTech experts to find out how the budget has fared in the eyes of the ecosystem.
“Specifically on education and startups, there isn’t much excitement in place as far as the budget is concerned. Some baby steps towards implementing the NEP is good – but remember that execution is the key there.
The increment in the budget isn’t significant, we should have landed at around 6-7% of GDP to create some impact
“The increment in the budget isn’t significant, we should have landed at around 6-7% of GDP to create some impact. Education should be seen as infrastructure – you are essentially building the Human Resources for the country.
“There isn’t much around re-skilling or up-skilling of teachers in the budget, which is the need of the hour. I think the 15,000 schools to start with for the NEP experiment is way too low given the base we have. Should have definitely targeted higher.”
“NEP has been given a thrust in the budget. The plan to set up 15,000 pilot schools as a showcase for NEP, which can be exemplary for other schools, is a welcome step and will lead to promoting NEP in the school ecosystem.
The plan to set up 15,000 pilot schools as a showcase for NEP is a welcome step and will lead to promoting NEP in the school ecosystem
“Tribal School-Eklavya Schools with newer allocation in tribal areas will spur further development of education in tribal areas. Allocation of the NATS for INR 3000 crore and increasing the contours of it will benefit companies.
“Innovation and R&D will get a boost by allocating NRF a sum of INR 50,000 crore for the next six years. The research and innovation ecosystem to get a substantial growth.”
“The Union Budget 2021 has focused on strengthening 15000 schools with all the components of NEP as a pilot project. Also, skill enrichment programs will be initiated in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates, which will bring new opportunities for the youth of our country.
“FM also mentioned to initialize a collaborative training program with Japan, which will be launched for more countries as well in the upcoming future.
This year’s Union Budget has focused primarily on innovation and R&D, therefore, it has become even more important for the students in the K-12 segment to enhance their 21st century skills
“This year’s Union Budget has focused primarily on innovation and R&D, therefore, it has become even more important for the students in the K-12 segment to enhance their 21st century skills in order to become skill-efficient in this tech-led generation.”
“There will be an expectation from the Government to spend setting up the innovation lab focusing on the technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Data analytics, etc. which can showcase the solution to most of the problem statements in most of the fields including, medical, agriculture, defense or any natural disaster.
Hopefully, the state and centre will invest a considerable amount of (the increased capital expenditure) for digital connectivity, high-speed Internet at an affordable rate
“Hopefully, the state and centre will invest a considerable amount of (the increased capital expenditure) for digital connectivity, high-speed Internet at an affordable rate, as well as learning assets in a remote location, so that aspirants can learn new-age technology to build a new India. Even after the economic crisis due to COVID-19, an increase in the capital expenditure with such a high number must be appreciated.”
“Nothing concrete has been mentioned about higher education in the budget. Only setting up of the Higher Education Commission via legislation was mentioned. But there was no mention about the budget allocation or how the implementation of the NEP for higher education will be done.
Only setting up of the Higher Education Commission via legislation was mentioned. But there was no mention about the budget allocation
“It will be interesting to see the details of the new law to set up the Higher Education Commission. With such a huge population, education is of prime importance, if we don’t want to see joblessness grow in the coming times.
“However, an INR 50,000 crore for research initiatives is a welcome move. Research needs a big boost and this might be a good start. If we need to strengthen our education system, research will be extremely important.”