More Power to the Education Budget? EdTech Experts Answer
2020 saw schools, colleges, and institutions shut entirely, leaving students and teachers with no options but to go digital. Teachers and students in schools demonstrated tremendous adaptability in embracing online learning methods.
This opens new horizons for EdTech startups. The introduction of NEP 2020 focuses on extracurricular and vocational learning with no separation from academic streams across the country. According to NASSCOM, India’s EdTech market expects to rise to US$3.5 billion by 2022, which, if achieved will normalize the country’s economic curve post-pandemic.
Though the EdTech sector was already gaining momentum over the past few years, the pandemic catalyzed the situation and brought it into the limelight. As such, the EdTech sector is expecting much assistance from the coming budget.
Should the education sector get more priority than others?
The Tech Panda reached out to two experts in EdTech for answers.
The budget allocation for the EdTech sector should be increased by at least 7-8%, compared to the previous year
“The budget allocation for the EdTech sector should be increased by at least 7-8%, compared to the previous year. It will give companies more thrust and motivation to develop innovative solutions and provide promising opportunities for establishing unicorn startups in the EdTech sector,” he says.
“The year 2020 witnessed record-breaking funding in the EdTech domain. The EdTech sector should also be included under the benefits availing scheme for MSMEs, as it will provide a better ecosystem for startups to scale and promote quality education,” he added.
Why More Power to the Education Budget?
Since the pandemic’s dawn, we have witnessed everything from how economies have collapsed and are now recovering in the past one year. Be it the IT sector, entertainment industry, FMCG industry, automobile industry, and others, they are now gaining momentum as the vaccination program continues to escalate across the globe. However, says, Gautam, the education sector remains affected.
“Though institutions have adopted online learning methods, the normalcy in the education sector is still not restored. Despite efforts being put by private companies and the government, we still lack solutions. E-learning is still a challenge for students coming from socio-economically weaker sections of society,” he says.
This is why he thinks, the budget should give more priority to the education sector, so that the effects of COVID-19 can be normalized.
“Underprivileged students shall be given more learning tools and opportunities to adapt to digital learning methods. More robust platforms should be developed and curated for students to learn with ease and discipline. Moreover, skills like problem-solving, creativity and computational thinking are crucial for 21st-century kids to face future adversities like the COVID-19 pandemic,” he explains.
“Regular classes of basic academia should be the point of focus for India’s government, as new-normalcy should be reflected in the education sector as well. Considering all the points, the budget scale should be inclined towards the education sector in the upcoming Union Budget 2021,” he adds.
The Education Budget Likely to Cross INR 100,000 Crore
In the statement released by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says, “100 years of India wouldn’t have seen a budget being made post-pandemic like this.” Abhishek Gupta, Founder and CEO, Hex N Bit, says this is an indication of the possibility that the education budget will cross INR 100,000 crore in FY 21-22.
From my perspective, the Government of India must spend at least 6% of its GDP on improving the EdTech sector resulting in the workforce quality for new India
“From my perspective, the Government of India must spend at least 6% of its GDP on improving the EdTech sector resulting in the workforce quality for new India. With the announcement of national education policy, to make it best across the globe for research and innovation, considerable funds are required to form a talented pool in various sectors, including medical, military, agriculture, finance, transportation, construction, etc.,” he says.
He also points out that while India has the largest percentage of youth who have shown interest in online education to upskill themselves, during COVID-19, infrastructure did lag.
“Even when we were giving online sessions to candidates, some of them didn’t have good Internet speed or computer systems, especially in Tier 3 districts. So, through budget 2021, there will be an expectation to build up the EdTech ecosystem for citizens to scale up their skills as online education can be made accessible and scalable for both applicants as well as for EdTech firms,” he adds.
Insights reflect precisely how EdTech companies developed in 2020. Therefore, the sector expects to hear much good news in the budget for 2021. How much will be appeased remains to be seen.