By Anand Maheshwari,
The third wave and the ongoing pandemic has aggravated various educational advancements that we see today. Be it the internet connectivity or the new age digital trends of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence, the sector has seen massive changes. This is the new normal and adapting to the norms is what is expected out of a nation that prepares for its Union Budget Day.
As the positivity rate of Covid cases are increasing rapidly, schools, and colleges have decided to continue with online classes. The EdTech industry and all the other start-ups in the education sector are eagerly awaiting for the budget day as a lot depends on the financial support that’s offered by the Government in terms of tax exemptions and funding. Educational institutions are also looking forward to the agenda of NEP 2020.
As per the Union Budget of 2021, the education sector was allotted a total of Rs 93,224 crore. Out of which, Rs 54,873 was allotted for school education, and the rest for the higher education space. As the pandemic and the situation in terms of the educational model followed, hasn’t changed much, education experts are expecting at least a 10% higher budget allocation for the upcoming 2022-23 budget, since last year a major chunk of the funds were allocated to healthcare and emergency services.
The Government should provide a clearer breakdown of the budget and give due diligence to enhance internet connectivity and modern amenities. The quality of education cannot be compromised and hence classes should be accessible on 5G internet to all students irrespective of them belonging to tier 2, 3, and 4 cities.
Availability of electronic devices (PCs, laptops, smart phones) to every student holds a major role in enhancing digital learning. A relaxation on GST for EdTech platforms and developments in the digital infrastructure are a must for the effective implementation of NEP 20. Also by reducing the interest on education loans, the government can create a level-playing ground for all learners.
Another major concern that students have is the lack of diversity or representation in higher educational institutes. Inclusivity is still a stigma and measures need to be taken at a much larger scale for a change to be effectively visible.
Just as the previous year, Government should bring out plans and encourage Atmanirbhar education institutions to thrive. Their focus should be on skill building and equipping students with industry-specific knowledge that will bring a deeper transformational shift to the education system.
Just as last year, expectations surrounding the Union Budget 2022 is highly depended on the pandemic and the surge in positive cases. In such a restricted environment, digital learning is the only way forward and hence educational experts are looking forward to a budget allocation that enhances implementation of technology in the educational sector.
(The author is Managing Director, Allen Digital Pvt. Ltd. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)