Budget 2018: Each year the budget allocation towards education has been largely incremental in nature but has not been enough by any long measure. In the upcoming Union Budget 2018, there is the expectation that government spending on education GDP will increase from the current 3.71% to get on par with other developing countries.
There are reports that the budget allocation for school education is expected to rise by 14% in the next fiscal year 2018-19, which is welcome news. However, we still need to examine if the increased outlay is enough and if the Indian Government is allocating the spends wisely. Basically, we would like the government make education a priority.
Education is the stepping stone for the future of India and investment in education is a necessity, if we want to see “Shining India”. A sufficient budget must be allocated for education and the increased expenditure should be looked at as an investment for the growth agenda, rather than as a development element.
All the talk about improving the quality of education, especially primary education, will fall short if the quality of the most important stakeholder in the education sector — the teachers — is not addressed. We are all aware that quality of teachers entering the profession seems to be dropping.
The primary reasons for choosing the profession seem to be “convenience”. This compromises the quality of teaching in the classroom. The enormous effort and money spent by government and private agencies on teacher training have limited impact because the quality of talent entering the teaching profession is suspect.
Therefore to address this catch 22 situation, the Union Budget 2018 should account for and allocate funds to increase teacher salary, so as to attract the best talent to join the education sector. Simultaneously, the government must put into effect robust selection process for teacher recruitment in terms of qualifications and skills, along with transparent teacher recruitment process and merit-based promotions. This move will have a cascading effect on vastly improving the education sector and give our students access to quality education.
Other important expectations from the budget are the implementation of the much delayed New Education Policy (NEP), effective school assessment like the national assessment survey, innovation in schools and mapping of learning outcomes, which should find significant mention in the Budget 2018 presentation.
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Given the importance of human resources for a largely services-centric economy and with plans to boost the manufacturing sector, it is very important that the current government provides for a huge financial boost in the Budget 2018 to strengthen the education sector.
Rajesh Rao is Founder & CEO of teacher training provider ‘Connecting the Dots’