Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a paradigm shift in education across the country. When schools started to open, the new wave shook the vast education sector further. Experts say the issues need to be addressed immediately in the 2022-23 Union budget.
An increase in budget allocation, measures to bridge the digital divide, control the threat of school dropouts, faster implementation of national education policy are some of the areas Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman must consider in his 2022 budget speech, education experts said.
INCREASE BUDGET ALLOCATION
“An increase in education allocation is expected in this year’s budget, bearing in mind that last year it was reduced to 6% – To reap the demographic dividend in the emerging knowledge economy of the future, we must prioritize tomorrow’s strategic strategies today’s operational needs and invest more in education,” said Achin Bhattacharyya, CEO and Founder of Notebook.
“Regarding the cost of education in the country, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on education services should be reduced from 18% to 5%. The long-term tax exemption and the financial support for educational technology companies will last a long time as a way to ensure the sector is able to attract and retain quality talent who are educators by choice and not by chance and, finally, more PPP (partnership public-private) are needed to ensure that quality educational content reaches every student and teacher in the country,” Bhattacharyya said.
“A budgetary allocation of 6-10% of GDP should be devoted to education. This would lead to a good start in continuing progress to build a stronger base. Opening up FDI in education would help for further expansion of technological advancements,” said Mona Lisa Bal, President of Kiit International School.
The existing digital divide in the country is no longer new information. According to the UNESCO State of Education Report 2021, the availability of IT equipment in schools in India is only 22% and only 19% of them have internet facility. It is imperative to allocate sufficient funds for the development of a robust and improved digital infrastructure, said Mona Lisa Bal.
Mona Lisa Bal said: “With physical classes once again closed, students will depend on online classes to continue learning. We must ensure that no student in the country is left behind due to financial and technological disadvantage. The end of the pandemic is nowhere in sight; therefore, it is essential that we take action to ensure that education is not suspended. The unpredictable nature of our present has made it clear that we must protect our future. It is important that we adapt our education system, pedagogy and assessments accordingly.”
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, online courses have become mainstream, but currently fall under an 18% GST slab. The GST easing for online courses and STEM toys will encourage more registrations from interested students,” said Sharad Bansal, co-founder of Tinkerly. noted.
However, with online education becoming the new norm, better internet connectivity in Tier 3 and 4 cities has become absolutely essential. The government should introduce programs such as “One student, one laptop” and provide scholarships for outstanding performance, Bansal said.
“With the approach of the Union Budget 2022-23, the younger generation expects a lot from the government. With Covid completely changing the dynamics of teaching in the classroom, we expect the focus to be on l online education and its infrastructure, especially in the Tier 2, 3 cities, within the budget,” said Aakash Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Educational Services Limited.
SKILLS TRAINING FOR TEACHERS
Bhattacharyya said, “As the country with the highest number of students in the world, we need to invest heavily in teacher training and workshops. Considering the current education scenario in the country, the need for l “Now is the time to invest massively in the country’s research infrastructure to stop the brain drain.”
Both technical and soft skills training should be made mandatory for teachers. They must be trained to teach and keep students engaged in online courses. A budget provision can be made under SSA for the same. Funds and disbursements to Atal DIY labs should be accelerated to improve the quality of education, Bansal said.
FASTER IMPLEMENTATION OF NEP 2020
In a bid to transform the country’s education system, the government launched the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). However, experts pointed out that the implementation of NEP 2020 has been slow.
“The next budget must also focus on this. Budget allocations must be made for faster implementation of NEP 2020, which has the potential to change our education system for the better,” said Mona Lisa Bal.
STOP SCHOOL DROPOUTS
Covid-19 has had a negative impact on the education system and forced an increase in the school dropout rate.
Aakash Chaudhry proposed, “The government should announce an attractive stimulus package and provisions for the education sector to close the glaring divide between urban and rural populations. The government must also support telecom companies to develop better infrastructure, internet connectivity, access to modern devices, ensuring last mile delivery, quality support to underserved people who have been left behind account because of the digital divide. »
“Over 200 million children have lost a full year of formal education due to lack of proper digital infrastructure and unequipped teachers as schools were closed across the country. Online education had need vibrant digital infrastructure but due to lack of funds schools could not impart education.. Education should reach every nook and remotest parts of India. The pandemic has shown that we need a robust and improved digital infrastructure to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas,” Silpi Sahoo, President, SAI International Education Group mentioned.
MORE ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS LIKE IIT, IIM
Aakash Chaudhry, “While skills, reskilling and upskilling will be the new norm, we need to develop more institutes such as IITs, IIMs. NIIT, association with foreign universities offering new-age curriculum in line with global standards to propel future workforce into industry Government should focus on allocating significant funds to innovation, research and development to help talent create opportunities gainful employment.
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