Budget India 2020: The education sector is among the key determinants for the development of a country. Unfortunately, access to quality education and employment remains a privilege only for few.
By Rohit Manglik
Union Budget 2020: The education sector is among the key determinants for the development of a country. India is blessed to possess the advantage of a demographic dividend. However, it is essential to tap this advantage to fully realize the goal of socio-economic development. Unfortunately, access to quality education and employment remains a privilege only for few.
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The proposed New Education Policy has already instilled a lot of hopes among all stakeholders in the education sector for a turnaround. It is necessary that both Budget 2020-21 and policy reforms are in sync with the changing needs of globalization, urbanization and digitalization. There is a need to skill professionals and lay thrust on emerging technologies to prepare the burgeoning Indian workforce for Industry 4.0. Last year’s budget had already made a beginning by announcing a National Policy on Artificial Intelligence. It is essential to widen the focus to other emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, Machine Learning as well in the Budget for 2020-21.
One of the important keys facilitating access to higher education is the education loan. However, there are two impediments to it.
- the high rate of interest, and
- the low limit of the maximum amount that can be borrowed.
Budget India 2020-21 should take cognizance of this and provide a breather to the middle-class population. Proposing scholarships to meritorious students who belong to the economically weaker section of the society is also needed in the Budget 2020 so that no student is barred from quality education due to financial constraints.
Apart from focusing on upgrading basic infrastructure in primary schools, we also need radical measures to encourage student retention and promoting access to education for specially-abled. Teacher training is another overlooked area. There is an urgent need for introducing comprehensive teacher-training programs that will induce teachers to follow an interactive and communicative approach and enable the young minds to acquaint themselves with newer forms of learning.
In the area of higher education, Budget 2020 should focus on encouraging research and development and innovation in the field of science and technology. There is also a need to explore more academia-industry collaborations to enable students to be better equipped in tune with the changing times.
In today’s era of modernization and digitalization, online courses and e-learning complement conventional education and enable students to comprehend the concepts in a better manner and also upskill them. E-learning offers a glimpse into the world of innovative, interactive and practical learning. We need a policy framework providing recognition to this form of learning in the Budget 2020. Besides, the high rate of GST for online education makes it expensive, thereby restricting its access to only the elite. Therefore, considering the need of the hour, the government should reduce the existing rate of GST from 18% to 5% in the Union Budget for 2020-21. This step will not only enable access to online education at a lower cost but also provide a fillip to ed-tech startups. The Indian Budget 2020 should also place an equal thrust on skill development programmes through higher allocation and mechanism for a better synergy between central and state governments.
(The author is the CEO of EduGorilla. Views expressed in the article are personal.)