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Budget 2022: Budgeting for ‘education for all’

With higher allocations to futuristic programmes like DESH, ASPIRE, and NAPS, the education budget is forward-looking even as it addresses the sector’s current needs

The budget for Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya, the model schools of the Union government, have also received higher allocations.
The budget for Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya, the model schools of the Union government, have also received higher allocations.

By Kamlesh Vyas

Budget FY23 for education leverages technology and digital channels for inclusive recovery as India crosses 82 weeks of school closures. This includes initiatives like setting up of virtual learning labs to promote critical thinking skills, enabling teachers to develop quality e-content and setting up of a digital university. Some other budget proposals like the Bharatnet project for optical fibre network, 5G spectrum auction and digital access to villages will help support the above initiatives on digital education. The budget has also been sensitive towards the many students without digital access— the government has planned to enhance the number of TV channels under the PM eVidya programme for school students. All this should help expand the accessibility to education.

The initiative to upgrade Anganwadis will support children’s health outcomes and prepare them better for entering school. The budget also includes a proposal to allow foreign universities to be set up in GIFT city in Gujarat. Setting up of a digital university, the launch of DESH (Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood ) and using select Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) for skill development are other innovative ideas in the budget.

The allocation to Samagra Shiksha has gone up by 20%. The World Bank-aided Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS), which aims to improve school education, has received around 13% more funds compared to last year. The allocations to Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan have also gone up. The allocation for the department of higher education has been increased by around 6% compared to last year, while it has gone up by around 14 % for the department of school education and literacy. Programmes such as Accelerating State Education Program to Improve Results (ASPIRE) and Exemplar Schools program and National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) have received funding support;so have five academic institutions on urban planning and agricultural universities. The budget for Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya, the model schools of the Union government, have also received higher allocations.

While allocation has increased by around 12% compared to the revised gross allocation in 2021-22, the government’s overall expenditure including the state level expenditure, is likely to remain below the 6% of GDP level recommended by National Education Policy 2020 (‘NEP’). There also appears to be a reduction in scholarships and grant funds. Further, the budget speech did not prominently include funding for the National Scheme for Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education, the scheme for adolescent girls from SC/ST communities, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas and the Padhna Likhna Abhiyan on basic literacy. With the government augmenting its budgetary outlays in specific areas during the course of the financial year, it is likely that funds from other areas may be deployed for the schemes where allocation is not mentioned explicitly or where allocation may be insufficient. The Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0, the rechristened mid-day meal scheme, witnessed a small increase from the previous year’s budget estimates even as its coverage has been extended to children at the pre-primary level.

Meanwhile, the upgraded Anganwadis will contribute to Early Childhood Care & Education(ECCE) and help increase school enrolment. With the focus on training teacher’s for developing virtual content, engaging, high-quality content will be widely available to children across the country. This is likely to enhance learning outcomes especially in Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN). This is significant since quality and low-cost or free ed-tech content in the K8 segment, delivered through multiple media, is a current need Another likely gain is the opportunities for teachers to connect and share their learnings digitally, enhancing participation of teachers in Knowledge-Exchange (K-X) platforms and learning communities, as well as creation of K-X platforms, thereby contributing to professional development.

In the higher education segment, expanding the footprint of digital and online education would help enhance Gross Enrolment Ratio, around 30% at present. Digital education has the potential to democratise education by being accessible at a fraction of the current costs while also enabling the. education of convenience

Overall, the education budgetFY23 is forward-looking and has focused on the immediate needs of the sector. For a few areas, we might see some adjustments and reallocations as focus now shifts from the budget to effective implementation. These proposals are likely to create several positive outcomes for the country in the areas of education and skill development and literacy improvement. as well as boost the fast-growing EdTech sector.

The author is Partner, Deloitte India

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