Budget 2021 Expectations: Can Union Budget lay roadmap for transforming India into ‘global knowledge superpower’?

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New Delhi | Updated: January 31, 2021 6:43 PM

Budget 2021 Expectations for Education: While the NEP 2020 envisions transforming India into "a global knowledge superpower", Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will have her work cut out in the upcoming Union Budget 2021 to make the Government of India's ambition a reality.

Budget 2021 Expectations EducationBudget 2021 Expectations: Now all eyes are on the Narendra Modi government's Budget 2021 on February 1 and experts are hoping that multiple aspects and challenges pertaining to the Education sector will be taken care of.

Budget 2021 Expectations for Education: The education sector in India has been witnessing a paradigm shift due to National Education Policy 2020 (NEP-2020) and Covid-19. Now all eyes are on the Narendra Modi government’s Budget 2021 on February 1 and experts are hoping that multiple aspects and challenges pertaining to the Education sector will be taken care of.

While the NEP 2020 envisions transforming India into “a global knowledge superpower”, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will have her work cut out in the upcoming Union Budget 2021 to make the Government of India’s ambition a reality.

“We await the Union Budget 2021 with great hope, as it will be – among other things – the first after the introduction of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that envisions to transform India into a ‘global knowledge superpower’, and also the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP), the 5th one nationally, released on 1 January 2021. First and foremost, we must invest in networks and infrastructure to bridge the digital divide across the country. The NEP 2020 underlines the need to create a robust research ecosystem in our country, something that would, over time, be an important catalyst in driving India forward. At a time when food and energy costs have been rising, healthcare has been inadequate, and climate change threats are increasingly visible, investments in R&D of the physical kind become more important than ever. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will then be a multiplier,” Dr. Rupamanjari Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University-Delhi NCR, and Co-Chair, FICCI Higher Education Committee, said.

“Due to covid, we have seen a massive jump in people adopting online education. Apart from traditional education, students are open to expanding their reach to other education systems like vocational learning and upskilling. The government should allocate a higher budget to upskilling/ vocational education to not only improve existing infrastructure but also ensure that these companies can provide education at tier-2 and tier 3 levels,” Shashank Udupa, Education influencer, and CFO Avalon Meta said.

“The Education sector has got an impetus with the announcement of NEP and with digital learning, which was the result of Covid. Budget 2021 we expect support from the government for strengthening the required infrastructure to support digital learning. Measures are required to ensure uninterrupted services to the remotest parts of India, to safeguard access to education to every student. Apart from this, the sector should not remain naïve to technological advancements, for which we expect strong support from the government to promote Artificial Intelligence in the Education sector. Although NEP has laid a strong foundation which is a historic moment for the Education sector, there is a need to strengthen the strategic implementation of the policy and ensure sufficient funds for its effective rollout. Not only this, the sector has been receiving a lower percentage of GDP year on year. This needs the attention of the Central government to increase the allocation and overall percentage share,” Sunit Gajbhiye, Chief Business Officer, Financepeer said.

“There is no doubt that the introduction of NEP 2020 was a landmark decision in the Indian education sector. The NEP focuses on improving the quality of education, ensuring equitable distribution of educational opportunities and building a strong foundation of higher education, it will be possible only with the appropriate funding for these initiatives. It is clear that technology will have a huge role to play in the future of education. Taking that into consideration, more funds must be allocated for facilitating e-learning and setting up digital infrastructure in schools across urban and rural communities in Budget 2021. Additionally, it is important to also allocate funds to ensure wide distribution of these facilities pan-India. COVID -19 has put a lot of fiscal pressure on the states and there is a chance of the education budget taking a hit but since education forms the basis of one’s life, no child must be exempted when it comes to educational facilities. If we invest extensively in education today, it inevitably means that we are investing in a bright future for India.” Ankit Arora, Founder, Saarthi Education, said.

“As per Government projections, India’s edtech expenditure could rise to USD10 trillion by 2030. The ‘everything virtual’ norm set by the pandemic has ushered a new era of edtech growth and online education in India. Penetrating deeper into Urban and Rural India this unique tech-enabled platforms are consistently shaping the future of education in India. To bridge the digital divide and strengthen India’s promising edtech startup ecosystem, we expect the government to provide better internet infrastructure, robust data protection systems and more tax exemptions in the Budget 2021. By ensuring round-the-clock reliability of electricity supply, accessible and affordable high-speed internet, deeper penetration of cheaper connectivity devices such as notebooks, laptops, smartphones etc. to every nook and corner of the country, Government can support India in becoming the Global Hub for Digital Education,” Sparsh Garg, Founder, and CEO, Educlouds-India, said.

“The Hybrid model is here to stay and we hope that the Government will set aside funds for providing data and devices to the underprivileged students and educators so that we can reach out to the remotest corners of India. With the unveiling of the New Education Policy, the teachers need to be upskilled to do justice to the changes envisioned by the policymakers. We urge the Government to focus on training of teachers to bring them at par with international educators. GST exemption or reduction in rate on teacher training courses would be a welcome move,” Surabhi Goel, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Education Academy, Aditya Birla World Academy, and The Aditya Birla Integrated School said.

“Budget 2021 is going to be extremely crucial for sectors like education because it would need to be rebooted in its entirety. Covid19 has forced the embracing of the digital technology education sector at all levels. This is an opportunity in disguise that cannot be missed to build a digital infrastructure that would reach every student of India and fulfil the objective of Right to Education. National Education Policy 2020 needs investment on priority from the budget and financial incentive to the EdTech sector including abolition of GST of 18 per cent levied on education sector for next 5 years,” said Nitin Potdar Corporate Partner at J. Sagar Associates who leads Education Practice of the firm.

“The Budget 2021 is one of the most crucial as it is the first financial statement of the government that would be announced after the Covid-19 pandemic. The past year witnessed a paradigm shift when it comes to education, as schools and colleges remained closed for the longest period. Classroom teaching was replaced completely by remote learning wherein even elementary education was imparted through smartphones and laptops. Thankfully, the new National Education Policy 2020 was finalized after the outbreak of the pandemic and hence it has taken into consideration almost all factors that would be instrumental in the post-Covid era. Our foremost expectation from the budget is that it would provide the much-needed push to the education sector, which has been languishing over the past year. The need of the hour is that each rupee allocated to the sector must end up benefiting the maximum number of students possible. This can be achieved by bringing in efficiency and transparency in the usage of the allocated sum. In the previous budget, the government allocated nearly 3.2 per cent of the total budget for education. It is crucial that the share of the education sector be increased significantly to overcome the challenges currently faced by the sector,” Dev Roy, Founder, Digital Aristotle said.

“The key question is how can we promote education – both in terms of increasing the spending capacity of the parents and encouraging new-age companies to step in and bring in new ways of learning. We believe that the need of the hour is to provide tax exemption on educational expenses, which would encourage the parents to spend not just on regular tuitions but also towards building co-curricular and extra-curricular skills in the children. We also expect the government to significantly reduce the GST on education companies. We are living the change as we speak. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers are not equipped to teach in such an environment. There should be a pie of the budget towards education that goes into developing these skills for all tutors,” Rohit Jain, Co-Founder DUX Education, said.

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