The finance minister, during the opening of his Budget speech, articulated India’s aspiration of becoming the fifth-largest global economy and cited structural reforms and other initiatives undertaken to pave the path to achieve this goal. One of the key focus areas for achieving this is the development of our human resources so that they can productively participate in our economic growth. The recently conducted National Survey on Learning Outcomes has indicated that quality of education across the country is a serious concern, with learning outcomes not at expected standards. This is impacting the employability of our youth, with the often repeated complaint from industries and businesses that they are not getting the desired levels of skills and expertise despite our demographic advantage, which, in turn, adversely affects productivity and economic growth.
This year’s Budget recognises this concern and seeks to address it through various initiatives and measures. The key amongst these is the concept of moving from blackboard to digital board, with digital technology going to play a significant role in improving the quality of education through introducing conceptual learning methods. The need to train our teachers in adopting and using new teaching methods has been addressed through proposals on training in-service teachers leveraging e-learning and digital methods including the DIKSHA portal. To augment and revitalise public education institutes in terms of infrastructure and facilities, Rs 1 lakh crore is to be allocated over four years to the Higher Education Financing Agency for the scheme titled Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education, or RISE. It is envisaged that a significant proportion of these funds will be used in digitising the classroom in our public education institutes, resulting in improved learning outcomes. These measures are expected to provide a level-playing field to students from such public institutions in terms of expertise and employability, irrespective of whether they come from urban or rural locations.
A district-wise strategy for improving the quality of education is planned to be taken up with a holistic approach encompassing the entire life-cycle of a student from pre-nursery to class XII. This will ensure that we effectively leverage our demographic dividend in an ever-changing world, which is facing disruptions with new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, etc. With the proposed measures to improve the quality of education, learning outcomes, and developing expertise and skills required in the new-age economy, we will be able to reach our goal of being one of the top five global economies and meet the aspirations of our young citizens in terms of better quality of living.
The author is a partner with Deloitte in India