Budget 2021 Expectations: Modi govt’s Union Budget must fix digital divide in Education sector exposed by Covid

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New Delhi | January 25, 2021 1:58 PM

Budget 2021 Expectations for Education: The COVID-19 crisis has been a major catalyst in the adoption of digital technology in education at every level.

Budget 2021 Expectations for EducationIn Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman needs to focus on digital education to provide equal opportunity to everyone.

Budget 2021 Expectations for Education: Covid crisis forced the education fraternity to adopt the digital mode as offline classes could not be held due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus and Lockdown-like measures. Apart from classes, examinations have also been held in online mode. The adoption of digital mode in the education sector in India was very much there but the pandemic has underlined the need for digital technology in education at every level. In Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman needs to focus on digital education to provide equal opportunity to everyone.

“The COVID-19 crisis has been a major catalyst in the adoption of digital technology in education at every level. 2020 built a strong foundation for online education and, now 2021 is ready to integrate with a jump start. I believe that even when the pandemic is over, India’s education system can be raised by several meters. I believe that ed-tech startups are here to stay, with no turning back, owing to what we bring to the table. With these drastic, prevalent changes in the education system, we have high hopes in 2021 for the sector!” Akash Aggarwal, Founder and CEO, eduTinker, said.

“As we enter a brand new year, we anticipate the need for better internet infrastructure and robust data protection, in order to expand digitized education. We, as ed-tech startups, expect unwavering support from the government, via the allocation of funds to further rise in the Budget 2021. Also, the State Governments must come up with initiatives for schools where free digital education is provided to every student, without a second thought,” Aggarwal said.

“2020 has been an unforgiving year and among the many industries severely affected by the pandemic, the education sector and learning is one of them. The pillars of primary as well as higher education was shaken abruptly resulting in learning losses particularly to those who lack digital access. The pandemic has once again underscored the digital divide that exists in this country. A lot of schools especially run by the government in rural belts, small towns got badly impacted due to the yawning digital divide. Government schools where 80 per cent to 90 per cent of Indian students’ study are some of the biggest sufferers as students do not have the paraphernalia to attend online classes. Therefore, the first and foremost issue that needs to be addressed in this upcoming Budget is allocation of funds to develop digital infrastructure across the country, especially rural India, to bridge the gap between rural and urban and there is no inequality. The government must evaluate the situation on ground and spend on assets for long term that includes smart classroom, Internet connection and upskilling of teachers in line with National Education Policy 2020 (NEP-2020) in Budget 2021,” Professor Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director, IIM Sambalpur said.

“Education is one of the primary sectors in any country and there is a huge expectancy from Budget 2021 for reviving the sector after the Covid-induced challenges that the industry has faced this year. The pandemic has given us a clear picture of the great digital divide in our country. The underprivileged are at a disadvantage due to the lack of proper facilities to attend online classes. They do not have enough resource to afford digital education. Covid acted as an eye opener to reveal that India is yet not prepared for digital education and the Budget must mitigate these challenges. There are expectations of adding more budgetary measures to reform the education sector as was recommended in the NEP 2020. The education system requires higher investments to progress. The Budget 2021 of this year must prepare a financial scheme for the implementation of NEP and ensure adequate resources for expanding and strengthening the education system,” Dr. Mona Lisa Bal, Chairperson, KiiT International School.

“NEP 2020 and COVID-19 made it prominent that this year K12 education sector needs more attention and priority from Government of India in the Budget 2021. Allocating of 6 per cent of the GDP towards Education would lead to a healthy start in the further progress to build a strong foundation. Opening FDI into education would be a good option as well. With schools around the country re-opening, the budget should also be allocated towards safety measures to ensure that the virus does not spread. The budget should also allot adequate resources to funds and scholarships to provide equal quality education among all students,” Dr.Bal said.

“This time Budget 2021 has to be like never before. More as 3.0 or 4.0 of its version making 2021 as a total comeback year for Indian economy and business machinery. The emphasis should be on core growth engines that sustained and helped us to combat Covid times in 2020- Essential FMCG, Essential HealthCare and Digital adoption. Special provisions and schemes are to be introduced to increase Digital Education and relevant Digitization to foster employment generation as well as re-employment. Taxation structure and slabs both on income and goods or services are to be reviewed with ‘revival of economy’ mindset towards real self-sustenance building under Aatmnirbhar and Make in India schemes. Incentivisation for Start ups and Self Employment can be kept as a special provision to reduce unemployment and encourage entrepreneurship. Special category of employment generators is to be looked and created within each industry to spear head growth as R&R (Reboot or Revive) for its growth,” Deepak Goel, CEO, iMET Global said.

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