Budget 2018 expectations for Education: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present Budget 2018 on Thursday. This will be Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP'government's fifth Budget and it will be politically important.
Budget 2018 expectations for Education: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present Budget 2018 on Thursday. This will be Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP’government’s fifth Budget and politically important as it will be presented ahead of eight major Assembly elections this year and General Elections 2019. While the upcoming Budget is crucial for all sectors, it is pivotal for the education sector. Budget 2017 saw a 10% increase in overall allocation for education from Rs 72,394 crore in 2016 to Rs 79,686 crore and a major push was given to higher education.
The Economic Survey 2018 of India, which was presented in the Parliament by FM Arun Jaitley on Monday, states the Government of India is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG- 4) for education – “Ensure inclusively and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” by 2030. This is what makes the upcoming Budget even more crucial. The Survey says that the Government has consistently prioritized strengthening the educational and health profile of the population. As India is poised to grow as one of the leading knowledge economies, education, skill development and health will remain priorities for the Government, it adds. Towards the same, here is what is expected out of the Budget 2018 for the education sector-
1. Allocation of Funds
The government in the last budget allocated a total of Rs 79,686 crore towards the education sector with a 10% increase in the overall allocation from Rs 72394 crore in the previous year. Out of the Rs 7,292 crore hike, a large chunk of Rs 3,000 crore was for the IITs. PM Narendra Modi had also decided to invest Rs 10,000 crore in 20 India varsities to ensure they are counted among the best in the world. Jaitley during the last Budget session had also announced that two new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) would come up in the states of Jharkhand and Gujarat. A lot of promises that were made last year have been materialised, but it will be interesting to see how much the government is ready to invest in this growing sector this year to reach its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG- 4) for education by 2030. The focus this year will be on innovation, advanced infrastructure and a new learning map.
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2. Gender Ratio in Schools
The Eco survey says, “Gender Parity Index (GPI) in education is a valuable indicator which reflects the discrimination against girls in access to educational opportunities.” It adds that in higher education, gender disparities still prevail in enrollment for which continuous efforts are being made by the Government to improve net intake rate for women in higher education. While the government has initiated programmes like Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao to improve the Gender Ratio in schools, it will be interesting to know what the Centre has in store to take this initiative a notch higher.
3. New app after SWAYAM?
The education sector is lagging behind in information technology. The government last year, with the aim to “bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy” had introduced the ‘SWAYAM’ platform. While this platform provides over 350 online courses, students will be looking forward to how the government will use technology to educate the masses.
4. National Testing Agency
The National Testing Agency (NTA) was proposed by Jaitley last year with the aim to unburden the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). It was announced that after its formation, the body might be conducting the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) for IITs and the national medical entrance exam NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) twice a year.
The focus this year will be on how the government plans to use that one examination agency to conduct the most important entrance examination for students and what all changes are introduced towards the same.
5. Higher education
According to a speech by Prime minister Narendra Modi back on October 2017, the government is planning to ensure that Indian varsities are counted among the best in the world. Towards the implementation of the same a large chunk of Rs 3,000 crore was given to the IITs. Rs 10,000 crore will soon be given to 20 varsities in the country to make them World Class Universities. Funding of Rs. 456.10 Crore was approved for four IITs – Indian Institute of Technology Madras, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi for infrastructural growth. In addition, Jaitley, during the last Budget, had also announced that two new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jharkhand and Gujarat.
It will be interesting to see what else will be put on table by the Central government to make Higher education in India reach new heights.