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Budget 2021: Reactions from the Education Sector

In a bid to boost the pandemic hit economy, through the multiple investment announcement in the sectors like Health, Infrastructure, Education, Startups, Automobile among others. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday tabled the first paperless Union Budget for 2021-22 in the parliament.

Here’s what experts from the education sector want to say: 

Varun Chopra, CEO & Co-Founder, Eduvanz:

“More than 40 mn students enroll for HE courses across India every year, the move to set up a HE commission and cluster will allow good private and public institutions in a city to collaborate and edge out the existing silos between the institutions and provide a better quality of education to students in India.”

Rohit Gajbhiye, Founder of Financepeer:

“Overall the budget seems promising and the budgetary allocations towards schools and national research foundation are expected to boost the education and research culture in India but this could have been given an additional boost if the Finance Minister would have laid some impetus on online education and online education infrastructure. However, the education sector would now wait to see the roll-out of the National Education Policy that promises hybrid mode of learning as the future.”

P.C. Chhabra- Executive Director, Sanskriti University:

This is a realistic budget and the allocation of budget for health, education, and skill development are really good initiatives. We were expecting digitalization in education but increasing expenses of mobile and electronic products will lead to the problem in education and this is a step back in digital India. This budget will be a boost for healthcare and infrastructure and will strengthen NEP.

The FM has allocated over INR 3000 crore funds with a forward-looking training plan towards the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Opening college in Leh, Collaboration with Japan for training and inter-training programs to facilitate the transfer of Japanese industrial and vocational skills, techniques, and knowledge are very positives. Though the government made a positive move by increasing the number of universities, amendments in the apprenticeship training scheme and training scheme, this may not be enough for the World’s largest young population with 600 million people under the age of 25 years. Overall the Budget is very progressive and transparent.

Mr. Som Sharma, Founder of Edu Brain Group:

The status of education is often a healthy predictor of the country’s overall development and well-being. The Budget 2021 as presented by the Finance Minister had various generic points such as the set up of Higher Education Commission responsible for the accreditation and regular funding of the Colleges and Universities and also proposed to amend apprenticeship law to enhance opportunities for youth is a great initiative taken by Govt of India.

The Union Budget 2021 has definitely proposed significant changes that have the capability to revitalize the education sector. To promote skill Development Govt. has taken a few innovative initiatives to maintain the research ecosystem by collaborating with Japan for the sharing of technology and knowledge and collaboration with UAE for skill development and deployment on successful completion of courses. We feel Budget 2021 comes up with various opportunities for students to enhance their skills and this right intent of the government can truly be attained if we also have a long-term strategy and organizational structure in place and we also look forward to it.

Ashish Jhalani, Managing Director, Square Panda India:

Square Panda is very excited that inclusive development for aspirational India and reinvigorating human capital are two pillars on which budget 2021 rests. The two important announcements for us are that over 15,000 schools are to implement the National Education Policy and act as a model for the rest of the schools.

Also, 100 new Sainik Schools and 750 Eklavya Model Residential Schools are to be set up in tribal areas. Each of these is an opportunity to skill our children, our pre-schoolers in the right way, with the right pedagogy, and ensure that their foundational literacy and numeracy is achieved and that they become contributing citizens to the India of the future.”

Prof (Dr.) Sanjiv Marwah, Director, JK Business School:

“The budget presented by the honorable Finance Minister tried to address many facets of the educational sector. The overall allocation of Rs. 93224 Cr for the education sector is a welcoming announcement. The budget emphasized the recent trend of tinkering at the edges of the problems that confront the Indian Education System. Madam Finance Minister announced the strengthening of more than 15,000 schools, starting 750 Eklavya schools and 100 new Sainik schools which will have a great impact on the school education. 

On the other hand, the Legislation of the Higher Education Commission of India will resolve the various challenges faced by higher education in our country. The budget consists of the apt strategies which will help in the speedy implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP). Another point that deserves huge appreciation in the budget is the development of the National Research Foundation, which outlawed Rs.50,000 Cr over 5 years. It will strengthen the overall research ecosystem of the country and help India emerge as the R&D epicenter of the world.”

Ms. Surabhi Goel, CEO – Aditya Birla World Academy, Aditya Birla Education Academy, The Aditya Birla Integrated School: 

“The measures announced by the finance minister in today’s union budget 2021 focuses on two important aspects – one is the continuous upskilling of India’s youth and also providing education for all. We are in-line with the announcement as Aditya Birla Education Academy is at the forefront of creating various programs that help the educators of the country upskill themselves. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has set aside funds worth 3000 crores with an aim to create an opportunity for Millenials of India to upskill themselves. 

The budget also provided an impetus on establishing a National Research Foundation by allocating Rs 50,000 crore thereby qualitatively strengthening the education system through the National Education Policy. At Aditya Birla World Academy and The Aditya Birla Integrated School, the focus has always been on creating a cohesive learning environment for the students even though the online medium over the course of last year. We aim to make the students future-ready by imparting practical learning along with theory-based sessions. We believe that the measures announced by the government will further boost in augmenting the education sector of the country.”

Dr. Chandrima Sikdar, Associate Dean, School of Business Management, SVKM’s NMIMS Deemed-to-be University:

“The announcements for the education sector in the Union Budget 2021 spell out a road map towards inclusive education in India. From setting up of a central university in Leh to setting up 750 Ekalavya Model residential schools in tribal areas to 100 new Sainik schools to revamping of a post-matric scheme to a proposal to amend the Apprenticeship Act, the announcements clearly indicate a concerted effort towards making education accessible, available and affordable to all and to the remotest and farthest of the places in the country.”

Mr. Srini Raghavan, Co-Founder, and Chief Executive Officer, Educational Initiatives:

“The Union Budget 2021-22 focuses on driving notable progress in the educational system in India through a transformation in the learning framework from traditional rote learning format to an evolved and engaged pedagogical approach for students in K12. The government has shown the commitment to take a number of steps to reform assessments in India including Board Exam Reforms and making assessments focus on conceptual learning in school, which we welcome. 

This focus on assessments, which is the core of the learning solutions that we offer at Educational Initiatives, ensures that students are assessed on conceptual clarity, analytical skills, and application of knowledge to real-life situations. It also helps to identify the students’ potential and in making formative decisions in higher education and career choices. In addition, the pandemic has underlined the importance of upskilling teachers for which the Government’s decision on training school teachers through the new initiatives will aid in promoting the need for improved quality in education, across schools and syllabi. 

The parameters will enhance the capabilities of teachers through individual mentoring of school teachers and educators through constant online/offline support on subjects, themes, and pedagogy in line with the Science of Learning.”

Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, Provost – HSNC University:

“The modern outlook and approach in the budget outlook for the Education sector are opening-up floodgates to reinvigorate human capital on a serious note. The outlays drawn is paving the path for the advance of India on the global map via extensive initiatives and measures like Rashtriya Shiksha Mission, extended support continues for primary education and for tribal areas as well as underprivileged additionally encompassing focus on higher education inclusive of skill development that falls in tune with NEP 2020. An ambitious target of supporting 15000 schools via NGO’s and other organizations will go a long way in revamping education management in the system. 

The FM’s proposal towards skilling and apprenticeship for students on amending the same and dedicating a sum of Rs 3000 crores will give multiple opportunities to the aspiring NextGen leaders of tomorrow. Special outlays of Rs 50,000 crores over 5years to strengthen the renewed focus on Research & Development.  

Furthermore, introducing legislation to form a Higher Education Commission of India to look after accreditation, funding, regulation, and standard-setting is a strategic four-pillar move that strongly builds on National Education Policy. Thus the budget 2021 promises to be an employment-generating budget that will be backed by Skill India Programme as well as indicates a direction to promote academic collaborations with foreign higher education institutions and associating with international vocational models to extend our boundaries.

Mr. Rajiv Bansal, Director-Operations, Global Indian International School (GIIS), India:

“Budget 2021-22 assumes huge importance in mitigating India’s economic crisis and disruption across various sectors brought on by COVID-19 pandemic, which is the need of the hour. This being the first Budget after the unveiling of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, we look forward to the steps to be taken in the education sector.  The announcement of more than 15,000 schools to be qualitatively strengthened, with all components of National Education Policy, to emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, hand-holding and mentoring other schools, is certainly a welcome step.

At the same time, the education fraternity is eagerly waiting to hear about the comprehensive implementation plan for NEP 2020 with adequate fund allocation to develop digital infrastructure that would aid and accelerate the necessary improvement required in the teaching-learning process. Besides this, the Budget 2021-22 has few key directions for the higher education sector as well, which should help bridge the existing educational gaps and secure a sustainable long-term growth structure.”

Tarun Goel, Director of The Design Institute of India:

The education budget comes as a ray of hope in these tough times that the entire nation has been facing due to the challenges imposed by Covid-19. The focus on empowering students of all regions and strata; by strengthening more than 15,000 schools (to emerge as model schools in their regions, hand-holding and mentoring other schools) and setting up of 100 new Sainik schools is a great step by the government.

One of the key developments in the education budget 2021-22 is that the government will implement the legislation for setting up of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020. It would be an umbrella body having four separate bodies for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding to make it one of the most centralized regulatory institutions and replace all other regulatory bodies like the University Grants Commission or the All India Council for Technical Education.

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Another major announcement is the creation of a formal umbrella structure in 9 cities to cover all Govt. colleges, universities, research institutions in a city for greater synergy.

DR. Suresh Mony, Professor Emeritus, SVKM’S  NMIMS Bengaluru Campus:

“Three proposals of the Finance Minister in the budget for 2020-21 for the Education sector are appealing, viz: (a) Strengthening of 15000+ schools (b) Setting up of the Higher Education Commission (c) Fund allocation for the National Research Fund(NRF). It is the quality of primary education that is really hurting human and economic development. 

While India has over 15 lakh schools which are reportedly three times that of China’s, 40% of them are unviable with less than 50 students and 2 to 3 teachers. Considering that we have about 935 districts in the country, the 15000 schools to be strengthened constitute an average of 16 schools per district which is significant. These schools can serve as model schools and have a spin-off effect on education in the rest of the district and trigger a revolutionary improvement in primary education.

Establishing a Higher Education Commission is in keeping with the recommendation in the New Education Policy(NEP) and would greatly uniformity and consistency help elevate the quality of higher education in India and enable many universities to enter the top 500 rankings. I am glad that the government has quickly responded to the NEP-2020 recommendation and earmarked funds for the NRF. 

However, budget allocation is the easier part. What is more important is for a mechanism to integrate academia, industry, government, and the social sector, on a common platform that is a repository of problems, issues that need to be researched. I hope the government, maybe through Niti Aayog quickly acts on this. Then there will plenty to chew for researchers in terms of ideas and research will become a movement where all the stakeholders are equally involved.”

Rajeev Tiwari, Founder, STEMROBO Technologies:

In the Union Budget, to promote Startup – announcement of Incorporation of One Person Company, Easing of Definition of Small Company from the point of view Corporate Law Compliance are a welcome step. Innovation & R&D will get a boost by allocating National Regional Foundation (NRF) a sum of 50000 Cr and boost Innovation Culture in startups.

Announcement of Non-Auditing of Income Tax till 10 Cr.  and allowing Startups to claim IT Exemption and Capital Gains for 1 more Year will ease the Compliance Burden of Startups and help in raising more funds. NEP (New Education Policy) has been given a thrust in the budget. The plan to set up 15000 Pilot Schools as a showcase for NEP, which can be exemplary for other schools, is a welcome step and will lead to promoting NEP in the School Ecosystem. Tribal School-Eklavya Schools with newer allocation – in tribal areas will spur further development of education in tribal areas. 

Allocation of the National Apprenticeship Scheme for 3000 Cr and increasing the contours of it will benefit companies. Innovation & R&D will get a boost by allocating National Regional Foundation (NRF) a sum of 50000 Cr for the next 6 Years. Research and Innovation Ecosystem to get a substantial growth.”

Anoop Gautam, CEO & Co-founder, Tinker Coders:

The unprecedented contractions put forth by the Covid-19 crisis have changed the economical aspects, entirety. Many changes were incorporated keeping in mind the challenges being faced by people at the grass-roots level. The startup industry, Edtech space too witnessed contractions and flattening of the curve in terms of growth and expansion. 

However, the recovery and normalcy rate has improved to a larger extent keeping in mind the implications of the pandemic. Union Budget 2021 has focused on strengthening 15000 schools with all the components of NEP as a pilot project.

Also, skill enrichment programs will be initiated in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates which will bring new opportunities for the youth of our country. FM Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman also mentioned initializing a collaborative training program with Japan, which will be launched for more countries as well in the upcoming future. 

This year’s Union Budget has focused primarily on innovation and research development, therefore it has become even important for the students in the K-12 segment to enhance their 21 st -Century skills in order to become skill-efficient in this tech-led generation. For startups, the government has proposed to reduce the margin money requirement from 25% to 15%. This will open a new door of opportunities for startups in upscaling their businesses. The government has also doubled the fund allocation for MSMEs, to a whopping 15,700 crores for FY22.”

Abhishek Gupta, Founder, and CEO, Hex N Bit: 

We welcome the budget for 2021. An increase in the MSME budget of Rs 15,700 crore, which is more than double of the previous year, can help the startups as well as MSME but as seen there are approximately 50k startups in India, so a big boost was expected in investment

In the National apprenticeship training scheme–the Indian government has now allocated Rs. 3,000 Cr. for National apprenticeship which will create a Skilled & talented workforce with the bilateral partnership with United Arab Emirates (UAB) to provide training, certification, assessments, etc. India will collaborate with Japan in order to adopt cutting-edge technology, technique & vocational programs for scaling up the technology in India to newer heights.

The government of India has proposed the budget of Rs 50K crore over 5 years for innovation & R&D. There will be an expectation from the Government to spend setting up the Innovation lab focusing on the technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Data analytics, etc. which can showcase the solution to most of the problem statement in most of the field including medical, agriculture, defense or any natural disaster 

As proposed by FM, capital expenditure is now increased to Rs. 5.54 Lakh crore from Rs. 4.39 Lakh crore, hopefully, the state & center will invest a considerable amount for digital connectivity, high-speed internet at an affordable rate as well as learning assets in a remote location so that aspirants can learn new-age technology to build New India. Even after the economic crisis due to Covid-19, an increase in the capital expenditure with such a high number must be appreciated.

Boost to start-up hub in India, as proposed by FM, there will be a plan to enforce incentives incorporation of one-person companies without any restriction on paid-up capital. Can set up this company in 180 days.

Sumeet Jain, Co-founder, Yocket:

Nothing concrete has been mentioned about higher education in the budget. Only setting up of Higher Education Commission via legislation was mentioned. But no mention about the budget allocation or how the implementation of the NEP for higher education. It will be interesting to see the details of the new law to set up the Higher Education Commission. With such a huge population, education is of prime importance if we don’t want to see joblessness grow in the coming times.

However, a 50,000 Cr. for research initiatives is a welcome move. Research needs a big boost and this might be a good start. If we need to strengthen our education system, research will be extremely important.

Mr.Rohit Jain, Co-founder of DUX Education:

The market is reacting and how! All the major stocks are up and that says a lot about the public sentiment with this budget. Specifically, on education and start-ups, there isn’t much excitement in place as far as the budget is concerned. Some baby steps towards implementing the NEP which is good – but remember that execution is the key there. The increment in the budget isn’t significant, we should have landed at around 6-7% of GDP to create some impact. Education should be seen as infrastructure – you are essentially building the Human Resources for the country. There isn’t much around re-skilling or up-skilling of teachers in the budget – which is the need of the hour. I think the 15K school to start with for the NEP experiment is way too low given the base we have. Should have definitely targeted higher.

Tax holidays are welcome – having said that, I don’t think that a lot of start-ups are actually generating profit. It’s a case of tangential benefit. A direct impact would have been through GST concessions to the DIPP registered startups at least, in my opinion.

Dr. Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management, Shahani Group and Ask.Careers:

“The budget had some welcome initiatives, like a collaboration with UAE & Japan, adding more rural schools, and strengthening the national apprenticeship program. However, I believe that a lot more could have been done to build India’s education sector as per the goals set out by National Education Policy (NEP 2020). Increased allocation of funds up to 6% of GDP (as recommended by expert committees), opening the sector to private for-profit investors, and allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India, were great opportunities which were missed in this budget.”

Mr. Rameswar Mandali, Founder & CEO, SKILL MONKS:

“Improving employment opportunities at the higher educational level by allocating INR 3000 crore in National Apprenticeship Training Scheme is a palpable consideration in the Union Budget 2020-21, for students from both non-science and technology streams. This will ensure that skilling is prioritized and enable students to be future-ready, in the domain of their choice and stay relevant in a dynamic market environment.

In addition from a start-up point of view, the Finance Minister’s proposal to extend tax holiday by one more year and capital gains exemption up to March 2022 is a welcome move and will enable the start-up ecosystem in the country to get onto a strong footing.”

Mr. Dev Roy, Founder, Digital Aristotle:

“The announcement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to qualitatively strengthen 15,000 schools under the National Education Policy is a welcome step. The education sector has been in dire need of a push with regard to quality and this move by the government will act as a major boost considering the ordeals faced due to the ongoing pandemic. This assumes significance as several doubts have been raised with regard to the quality of education imparted through remote mechanisms with existing infrastructure. Another welcome move is the proposed introduction of a new higher education body.”

Piyush Bhartiya- Co-founder of AdmitKard:

“We appreciate how the government has addressed major facets of the education system in the Budget 2021. The establishment of a regulatory mechanism to permit different degrees and enhance collaboration with foreign higher educational institutions is going to add more credibility to the system which was until now neglected. The budget also highlighted the beginning of legislation for the Higher Education Commission of India. 

Once in place, it will address standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding. This is expected to act as a catalyst in connecting the entire higher education system in India and abroad. The aspirants often lack guidance and support when it comes to availing higher education from foreign institutions. This step is going to rectify the same for students and parents.”

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