Education Budget 2018: This Year’s Union Budget Seems To Be Crucial

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In the previous year’s budget, the only big announcement in the schooling sector was about forming the national testing agency. The critics were not impressed. Depending on the data from Finance Ministry’s website, Rs 79686 crore was allocated to the education industry. But with eight state elections in 2018 and the general election in 2019, this year’s Union Budget appears to be critical. Below are a few expectations of those experts in the education sector.

Use allocations efficiently:

The achievement of RTE could be clearly viewed in the steadily rising enrollments in normal 8 — based on DISE registration in standard 8 climbed from 11 million in 2004-05 to 22 million in 2014-15. However, as Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has revealed over the years many children completing elementary education still don’t have foundational reading and arithmetic skills.

Having ensured “schooling for all” it is time to move to “learning for all”. Information on learning outcomes is available from ASER and NAS and accessible at the district level — the level where education plans are made.

This evidence needs to inform policy and opinions to classrooms and pedagogy. For instance, funds can be allocated specifically to a learning enhancement fund that districts can apply for. We do not necessarily need more allocations rather we have to use the allocations we’ve got more efficiently by learning.

— Wilima Wadhwa, Director of ASER Centre

Boost public spending in education:

From the forthcoming budget, there’s an urgent need to improve public spending on education in real terms. The Human Development Index of UNDP and the analysis on inclusiveness and growth released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) have shown that India’s social sector indicators have not performed well and consequently India lags in the WEF inclusiveness index one of the South Asian countries.

As education is one of the simplest approaches to promote social mobility and empowerment, the government must use this yearly budget to tackle these concerns. Improved public spending in education can bridge a few inequality of opportunity that appears to be developing a split among Indians. This budget must adopt policies towards further improvement in access to quality instruction.

On the flip side, there are emerging challenges in the work market coming from rapid changes in technology and automation. India’s higher education institutes need to gear themselves up towards addressing these new challenges. Changes in technology and business are generating demand for reskilling of their workforce. Some initiatives in the government in the coming budget towards this goal will be welcome.

Professor Parthapratim Pal, Economics professor.

Technology can play a big role:

The education sector is lagging behind in India with regard to innovation and reforms. The government should encourage entrepreneurship in this industry by way of recognition of efforts and tax SOPs. Technology may play a huge part in taking quality education to masses. There be no GST or income tax on education-technology businesses which are delivering instruction through online mode.

Rationalise taxes to create books affordable:

The focus on uplifting the youths of this country has been an important hallmark of the present government. In addition to skill development, focusing on strengthening the education industry throughout provisions to establish centres of excellence and a focus on teacher instruction and research and development are important to focus areas to further strengthen the sector.

Introducing an updated and current edition of the National Education Policy are a clear sign of the government’s commitment to the agenda of improving the education sector. The government have to look at further enhancing access to education at all levels and rationalising taxation to make books, notebooks and educational material including those through e-learning education applications affordable for the masses.

MBD group, Monica Malhotra Kandhari, MD

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