As the Indian government has indicated that the Union Budget will be presented on February 1, 2022, discussions and projections about what the government might expect in different areas, including education, have begun. The learning losses, the weak economic recovery, and the desire in implementing the National Education Policy can all be considered as key parts of the Education Budget 2022.
Ed-tech businesses mushrooming, a shift to online classes, new software and video conferencing technologies, and learning apps were all visible developments in the educational system. The education sector has swiftly shifted in the last two years as students and teachers turn to digital learning during the COVID-19 epidemic. To address the increased demand for at-home learning, the Ed – tech industry has adopted new technology and methodologies. The industry requests government aid for expansion in Budget 2022.
It is well acknowledged that easy access to all types of knowledge has grown critical, and it is now reliant on high-speed internet. The need to revamp the infrastructure is imperative to support the need of the digital age. “In the year 2021, the education sector was allotted Rs 93,224 crore, with Rs 54,873 crore going to school education and literacy and Rs 38,350 crore going to higher education. With a population of 600 million, India’s youth account for more than half of the country’s population, and the sheer volume of announcements in the education sector underscored the sector’s importance in defining the country’s future. This year it seems more likely for allocation to cross the 100,000 crore mark as the pandemic has further accelerated the need for a greater allocation for Building Innovation Ecosystem in Indian Educational Institutes and Enhancing Teachers Capacity, and to provide greater accessibility to students in far-flung areas.”, Rajeev Tiwari, Founder of Stemrobo said.
“Since the pandemic’s peak, almost 200 million children have missed a full year of formal schooling as a result of the lockdown. This scenario is exacerbated in India’s smaller towns and cities, where even low-cost private institutions have struggled to deliver the necessary online education. This is due to a lack of technological infrastructure in schools and teachers who are underprepared so the emphasis should be on programs to improve Internet connectivity infrastructure across the country, ensuring last-mile connectivity, inexpensive 5G devices, and, most crucially, assisting e-learning players with a solid e-learning infrastructure.”, he further added.
Rajeev emphasised, a cut in the tax rate would be most welcomed from the government side and it would be a great relief for the parents paying the tuition fees. This conundrum, which has arisen as a result of the pandemic in children’s learning stages, can be resolved by continuing to use educational technologies and implementing new approaches to satisfy the demands of parents and students. Our expectation is that the Union Budget should further drive policies around Innovation, Creativity, and Experiential Learning. NITI Aayog’s flagship Project Atal Tinkering Labs which was setup in 2016 has been making a great impact in this regard, the need is to further strengthen this project and link its learning outcomes in STEM, Experiential Learning, AI, and Coding. A reduction in the tax rate for ed-tech businesses might give even more momentum and encourage further investment, as the current GST rate of 18% is posing a barrier to these new businesses reaching their full potential. Lowering it to around 5% will do the good.
With a new pandemic looming in 2022, it is apparent that education technology will play a big role in the field. Supporting the foregoing statement, Sumeet Jain, Founder of Ed-tech startup Yocket said, “Self-regulation is the need right now. Ed-tech is still in its nascent stage and any policies which are not able to evolve well with the industry would be disastrous. Govt regulation at this stage might not be the best thing, but the industry together should have some self-regulation which can build trust for the whole industry.” He further stressed upon the reduction of GST for all education courses as it will be very helpful to make education more accessible from 18% to at least 5%. This can help a long way in reducing the prices of the courses. Higher education needs to be more accessible and affordable, and the government should do whatever it can to get this adoption to increase. Encouraging the students and providing them the required impetus should be the motto of the budget “Many bright students are not able to pursue higher education because of a lack of funds. We certainly need more scholarships or innovative ways to finance education. We are losing out on a lot of good aspiring students giving up because of a lack of funds. There should be a good amount of scholarships (or interest-free loans) for foreign education as well. A well-planned scheme can go a long way in getting a huge population to compete on a global level. We already have Indian-origin CEOs at many of the global MNCs. We can have many more if we can make foreign education more accessible for deserving students.” he further added.