The budgetary allocation for education in 2018 stood at 3.5% of the entire budget, with a special focus on digitized classrooms, ICT-enabled learning, and quality teacher training programmes. However, the overall improvement of the education sector requires more prioritized attention and funding. With the General Budget around the corner, we have high hopes from the government and expect that a substantial amount would be set aside to the education sector so that we can lay a stronger foundation for new-age learning strategies. The prerequisite for quality education becoming available to all is the free and easy access to quality e-learning resources. This can be initiated by the government through technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and cloud computing. It is also important to ensure that internet access provided to rural areas is functional so that students from those parts can use it for effective self-learning. Training teachers on the latest pedagogies and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the need of the hour as they are expected to employ innovative teaching methods and make use of digital tools in the classrooms. However, there is a dearth of 11 lakh adequately qualified teachers in the K–12 segments. Even though the government is trying to tackle the situation with initiatives such as Teacher Professional Development courses on the digital platform Diksha, this issue also needs prioritizing in the upcoming budget. We also hope that the government provides the right kind of infrastructural support for a system of education that is on a par with global standards, and help Indian students face the challenges of tomorrow.
In the previous Budget 2018 Government took key steps in skilling and also increased the funds. In this Budget 2019, we expect that the Government should take key steps in raising the quality of skills to levels demanded by a potential employer or even required for a person to start one’s own business. The focus should be on integrating strategies to increase skilling outcomes and sustain economic growth. Current skill development initiatives should be integrated with nation-building mission programmes. As an Organization which provides skilling and get funded from the Government to execute the Skilling programme, we seek some tax benefits. Constructing the Skilling centre requires a lot of physical material which is being charged along with GST. We are not being able to reclaim the GST we had paid in the Inward supplies. Also, we have various certification and degree programmes in Logistics and Supply chain management where we are not being exempted from GST. Support in terms of medical allowance for students that are being trained in skilling programmes. As technology is changing, the Government needs to allocate more funds to improve the quality and develop excellence in Skilling centres. The government has promised and initiated schemes in Skilling such as PMKVY 2.0, DDU-GKY, NAPS, Bharatmala and Sagarmala, PMKK etc. These schemes have helped us to reach the rural parts of India “The real India”. The government has been successful in implementing these schemes through strict monitoring and have been able to skill the rural youths of India.
While the Indian government has done much to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders of education, including students, the upcoming interim budget needs to address some important components of the education sector. Undoubtedly, lowering the GST rates from an existing 18% to expected 5% will make education affordable to students. The upcoming budget also needs to take initiatives such as allocating a bigger spending on education, provision for proper teacher training alongwith higher pay and administrative incentives. Incentives need to be provided to encourage research in all disciplines and for augmenting the technical capacity of the central educational institutions like NCERT, NUEPA, IGNOU and many more. Furthermore, a comprehensive scheme on lines of Ayushman Bharat can be a great start to improve the quality of education.
Ravi Sreedharan, Indian School of Development Management (ISDM)
As a percentage of GDP, India needs to double the current levels of spending in Public Education
Within this being an election year, one can expect announcements that appeal to large sections of society. And, by definition, this would mean programs, if not just announcements, that appeal to underserved segments of our society that live on the margins and are at or below lines that define poverty, basic nutrition, basic health, basic education, basic safety, basic opportunities, etc..
While this might sound like good news, often times, these announcements tend to be more headlines making than real drivers of change. The sums of money that gets committed for these programs end up being far less than required and mere tokenism.
There is enough understanding of the amount of monies that needs to be allocated to public education, public health to have a chance of ensuring basic opportunities, basic safety and basic dignity of every citizen of this country. While it might sound ambitious, there is a need to double the current levels of spending in these two areas as a percentage of GDP. Spend on Education as a percentage of GDP is still less than 3% versus the aspirational goal of 6%. Lots of developing and developed countries in the world have already been earmarking and spending close to this ballpark (as a percentage of GDP) on education. India’s inability to do so must be highlighted more as a question of intent rather than resources.
Our experience across nations in the world has more often not reinforced the importance of developing and strengthening a strong public/government education system as a necessary condition for economic and social transformation in a country. We will need to find our direction and intent to make this happen for India.
Given the current economic situation globally, it is time for the Asian economies particularly India and China to become front runners in progress. In order for us to keep maintain this growth momentum, continued impetus and allocations need to be given to the education sector. In order to improve the quality of education and keep up with the current technology trends, the government focus on encouraging existing & future faculty to take up research & doctoral studies is welcome. We expect to witness introduction of a government schemes in the higher education sector to provide benefit to the faculty opting for re-skilling, up-skilling, e-education and doctoral studies. The Government must also increase allocation towards the education sector and strengthen teacher training programs across the country to improve the overall quality and capacity of the education ecosystem. The Government should reconsider GST rates on higher education and make education loans cheaper and the term period bigger, also partially exempt GST on outsourced services in higher education from 18 percent to 5 percent, to help lower costs of educational institutions.