Budget 2017 is the most awaited announcement especially after the landmark move to demonetise the currency. The direction of Budget lays down the priorities of the government in the year to come.
This year’s budget is the most awaited announcement especially after the landmark move to demonetise the currency. The direction of Budget 2017 lays down the priorities of the government in the year to come. It offers the Finance Minister the opportunity to usher changes in education sector which is a key component to achieve the government’s vision of Make in India, Digital India and Skill India and propel India towards a services-centric economy and a high-tech to boost the manufacturing sector.
To ensure the success of these programs, there is a definite need to increase focus on producing quality and job-ready workforce. Much of the success of our Higher Education institutions over the last 2 decades has been in producing qualified talent for the IT and applied IT space. However, with these sectors now facing headwinds, they need new talent for emerging areas like Automation and Artificial Intelligence, and it is imperative that the Higher Education institutions realign to address this new reality. While this calls for a transformation at the higher education level, the need is also felt at K-12 level where the education system needs concerted efforts to build-in a result-oriented mechanism. While we have seen an incremental increase in the budget allocation for the sector over the past few years, there is a definite need of a steep increase in expenditure on education to realise the long-term vision.
Therefore, some of the key expectations from the upcoming Budget are:
1. Substantial increase in the financial outlay for the education sector post the currency demonetisation drive as the surplus cash liquidity is expected to be channelized in key social sectors, including education
2. Incentivizing the sector for private and foreign investment: To improve India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) across schools and colleges, increase student retention, it is the need of the hour to increase collaborative efforts between private sector and the government to promote quality education for all. The government should consider creating a conducive regulatory environment to attract investment from private and foreign players. Thus, working towards developing an education system that is at par with the global standards.
3. Rolling-out the New Education Policy (NEP): It is one of the most anticipated developments in the education sector considering the revolutionary reforms it is expected to bring in the areas of learning outcomes, curriculum renewal, teacher development, quality assurance at higher-ed level and internationalisation of education among others. While the planning and discussion phase has created enough excitement and involvement, there is a need to focus on its implementation now before it loses momentum.
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4. Revision of tax rates on education institutions: The education industry also desires that the education institutions should be covered under least possible Goods and Services Tax, preferably 0%, to lessen the financial burden on parents as well as students.
5. Newer order skills to form a part of Higher Education: To help infuse new talent and skills into the Indian IT and applied IT sectors, it is vital that the Higher Education sector works towards investing and repurposing existing assets to plan for the new reality of an increasingly automated and global ecosystem.
6. Increase focus on Virtual or blended education: I believe the Government must set aside budgets and engage the private sector vigorously to build virtual or blended institutions, to enhance access to the quality education.
By: Mr. Deepak Mehrotra, Managing Director, Pearson India