Education got a major fillip in Budget 2018-19. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said in his Budget speech that the government will henceforth be treating school education “holistically…from pre-nursery to Class 12”—that is, without segmenting it into primary, secondary and senior-secondary. Such a move will help track actual learning outcomes and flag deficiencies that mar overall educational attainment levels, thanks to gaps in learning getting carried forward. Learning gaps remained hidden under the now-scrapped no-detention policy, and states had complained that this caused high failure rates at the secondary level which, in turn, led to very high drop-out levels. To that extent, a holistic approach to school education was essential.
Jaitley also spoke of an integrated B.Ed programme for teachers to improve the quality of teachers. He recalled the July 2017 amendment to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, that set a two-year deadline for 13 lakh untrained teachers in government and private schools get the requisite qualification (Bachelors in Elementary Education or Diploma in Elementary Education). The government will also focus on increasing the “digital intensity” in education. Jaitley said that education must move from a “black board” mode to “digital board” mode in the coming years. He also made a mention of the recently-launched DIKSHA portal that lets teachers/teachers’ education institutes leverage flexible digital infrastructure to create, among other things, in-class resources, teachers’ training content, and assessment aids.
The government also intends to create Ekalavya Model Residential Schools in every block where more than half the population is tribal (with a threshold of 20,000 tribal persons). These will be modelled after Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have facilities to preserve local art and culture.
The FM also committed `1 lakh crore over the next four years to push research at premier educational institutions. He said 1,000 of the brightest BTech graduates from premier institutes will will be selected for the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship to pursue doctoral programmes at the IITs and IISc.