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Budget 2021: Expectations of Education sectors

Before the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget in the Parliament on February 1, 2021.

Here’s what the education sector expects from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman:

Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, Provost – HSNC University:

The Union Budget 2021-22 is expected to meet the cabinet’s approval for the increase in public investment in the education sector from the current 4.3% of GDP to 6%.

Educators and stakeholders of the entire education community also look forward to a cushion for private investments, especially the ones which focus on building up technology that is instrumental in the teaching and learning process of education. Adequate incentives for private investors are needed from the Ministry of Finance, to make India the ‘Next Education Destination’.

This is to ensure that globalization via higher education gets the deserving recognition for the multidisciplinary spectrum India conducts in various innovations, effective researches, etc. All in all, when the Finance Minister stated that “This will be unlike anything in the past 100 years” this paperless budget is expected to meet a lot of prospects and introduce provisions for advanced blended learning.”

Mr. Aditya Gupta, CEO, India Didactics Association:

“Schooling, skilling, higher education and employment go hand in hand. All of it needs to come together for India to realize its vision of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’. So, it is important that funding to education must increase deeply every year to achieve the 6% GDP as envisioned in the New Education policy.

The pandemic has created a focus towards the importance & continuance of Education. Hybrid is the way forward and may be well-thought-out as the best way forward. Hence, the budget must seek ways to increase investments in technology training and deployment across verticals across geographies.

Todays’ India envisions to be the Hub of Education globally, which is being discussed in the Virtual Conference TIESS – The International Education & Skill Summit, from 27-30 Jan, the budget needs to identify the global education dynamics and allocate funds accordingly. Imagination remains the key and the kind of foresight that the NEP exhibits, now must be matched with hard financial commitment. I am sure the Finance Minister would rise up to the occasion.”

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

“We believe one of the sectors that requires some focus in the upcoming Union Budget 2021 is education. With the pandemic and ensuing lockdown having disrupted the sector to a great extent, students and teachers were not prepared for the sudden shift to online forms of teaching and learning. This new normal in education calls for a renewed focus and investments in order for our educational institutions to be at par with their global counterparts. 

There is an increased need for investing in virtual forms of education and training through digital tools, upskilling and digital training for teachers through interactive mentoring sessions, leadership training and more. Further, the government can also bring to light the importance of easing the challenges faced by students with learning disabilities in order to build a conducive learning atmosphere that fuels their growth. 

We hope the government increases the funds allocated to the education sector especially when it comes to resources such as the internet as this will open up countless new opportunities for the sector to grow and thrive.”

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

“Schools & colleges around India will need to revamp their education models to comply with the recently announced National Education Policy 2020. This will require additional government funding to enable this to happen. India spends only 4.6 per cent of its total GDP on education, and ranks 62nd in total public expenditure on education per student, according to IMD. 

Budget 2021 should allocate at least 6% of Indian GDP to the education sector, which is in line with recommendations by Niti Ayog. Additionally, the changes envisaged by NEP 2020 cannot happen only with government funds. Private investment & FDI should be encouraged in mainstream education with an expectation of a reasonable return. 

The budget should also provide incentives for universities to conduct research & scholarships for student entrepreneurs who wish to create innovative products.”

Mr Amit Agarwal, Founder & CEO, OckyPocky:

“2020 proved all the misconceptions about online learning wrong, as there was a revolution created in the Edtech industry. The industry saw a hike in the participation of parents and kids and the Edtech sector has succeeded in engaging them effectively. 

Digital learning has become the new normal and people will stay glued to digital learning in the future as well. The Pandemic disrupted the entire education segment especially in the Tier-2 and Tier 3 cities, hence the government needs to give attention to the smaller towns of the country. The Ed-tech segment of the country expects the government to have a vision around a massive tech-led impact for kids across tier II, III, and IV regions of the country. 

We expect the government for network penetration at the regional level and allocate funds for the advancement in technological infrastructure, providing equal opportunities to the deprived sections of society. This way the budget 2021 could also create a way for a lot of opportunities and endeavors for the education industry across levels.”

Mr. Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO & Co-Founder, NextEducation India Pvt Ltd:

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“COVID-19 pandemic has brought a significant shift in the mode of learning as well as the teaching method. In the light of this, the stakeholders of education have an array of expectations from the government. This includes support in facilitating a smooth transition from traditional methods of teaching-learning to an online mode of education. 

The education sector is looking forward to a budget that meets the modern-day needs of virtual learning in terms of infrastructure and financial support. The shift to virtual learning requires sufficient funds that will empower the education system. Promoting the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies into teaching-learning practices will change the face of education for the better. 

Along with this, a financial boost to the educational institutions will go a long way in building a bright future for students. The impact of the New Education Policy with an inclusive approach will bring about a holistic learning experience for children. Ensuring this access will bring a significant and long-lasting impact on India’s education sector.”

Abhimanyu Saxena, Co-founder, Scaler and InterviewBit: 

“The year 2020 has been a turning point for every organization working in the space of ed-tech. It has allowed students and young professionals with ample time and opportunities to build on their skills. Continuing on this journey, 2021 is a crucial year, and it will set the course for the entire industry for years to come. 

With the new budget, we expect that the government will lower the GST levied on the ed-tech industry. It is currently at 18%, if it were to go down by even 1or2,  it would have a significant impact – making online education that much more accessible and affordable. 

Another thing that could be implemented is allowing working professionals some tax benefits redeemed against the fees paid for online upskilling courses and programs. It is a great motivator for professionals to upskill while allowing our nation to build a more diverse talent pool comparable to the best in the world. Further, interest paid on loans for higher education is exempt from Income tax. A similar policy can be introduced for loans being taken for online courses as well. 

Recognition from apex bodies like UGC, AICTE, and NSDC will also help alleviate digital education and upskilling programs’ status and awareness. All or some of these measures are sure to encourage more and more working professionals to upgrade their skill levels and knowledge. In the long run, this is bound to better the country’s human development index. We are on a cusp of an education revolution, and any impetus from the government will go a long way in establishing India as the hub for skilled talent.”

Rohit Gajbhiye, Founder Financepeer:

“The stakeholders are eyeing the Budget 2021 with a lot of expectations as the government has already signaled allocation of 6% of the GDP towards education. 

This can be a healthy start towards strengthening the sector. Aligning with it, we expect the government to introduce a framework for formalizing online education coupling it with exhaustive provisions for bridging the digital divide between both ends of the education value chain i.e. the Teachers and the Students. 

Also, reducing gaps in quality of education between rural and urban areas has to be on the priority list and technology is pivotal for that. We are also expecting the government to lay the ground for a gradual increase in the annual budget of education to 10% of GDP to create an ecosystem for a vigorous research and development infrastructure in the education sector.”

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

“We anticipate that Union Budget 2021 will bring in revolutionary changes to the education sector. The New Education Policy (NEP-2020) brought aggressive changes in the Higher Education System of our country – provided flexibility in the learning curve, emphasized on conceptual understanding, and blended learning.

Similarly, the upcoming FY budget must promote the perfect amalgamation of digital and traditional education and strive to encourage the adoption of emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things as well as promoting Research & Development.

Along with it, another key aspect that we are looking forward to in the Union Budget 2021 is financial support that can be provided to private sector institutions, including low-cost and zero-cost loans, which is done in many countries. We request the Govt. to consider ‘National Education Bank’ as a concept, just like the ‘National Housing Bank,’ such that education loans too can be provided at the lowest possible interest rate.”

Shekhar Bhattacharjee, Founder – Dalham Learning:

“As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamana and her team get ready to unveil the budget for 2021, the expectations are high. With the realities of a post-pandemic era, it has become crucial to reboot academic curricula through the newly designed National Education Policy 2020. New reforms need to go beyond the education sector purview of preparing young minds to get a degree.

The current mismatch between graduate employability stats and employer requirements may be moving towards a resolution with a focus on 21st century skill sets proposed in the NEP 2020. With overall unemployment as high as 7.8% in November 2020 and youth unemployment surpassing 20%, Budget 2021 needs to ensure adequate allocation to meet skilling/reskilling goals.

The budget has provided an ideal opportunity for Ministries of Education and Entrepreneurs to work together in formulating university curricula and skilling programmes that will boost the employability of graduate students fresh out of universities. One of the most welcomed news in the budget for the education sector comes with the suggestion of increasing funds allocation from 10 per cent of government public expenditure to 20 percent by 2030.

If the government wants swift and visible progress towards achieving its education goals, a lot of research needs to go in the proposed incremental changes in the education sector over the next few decades. The upcoming budget might just prove to be a decisive milestone in the future of India’s youth, setting them on a road map to augment areas of opportunities and help them achieve success at the global stage.”

Rameswar Mandali, CEO and Founder, SKILL MONKS:

“The education sector witnessed a significant disruption due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for training institutions across India whose operations completely halted. Leading to interruptions in exam preparation and learning across markets, where dependability on such institutions are much higher. Keeping skilling as a priority, the Government must provide training institutions with financial support through the Union Budget 2021- 2022, by offering subsidies on basic infrastructural facilities, providing access to low-cost funds backed by an extended moratorium period and collateral free loans. Similarly, to encourage quality EdTech start-ups and more professionals to get into the skilling domain, the Government should look at a tax holiday for initial two years of operation. To give thrust to online training and education, more funds allocated to automate and digitise operations of training institutions will enable India to become a global hub for online education.

To ensure that skilling is prioritised the Government in this budget must provision for reduced GST slabs, encouraging young graduates and working professionals in getting skilled in a domain of their choice  and stay relevant in a dynamic market environment. Additionally, the Government should look at incorporating additional sanctions to the National Skill Development Corporation ( NSDC) to facilitate accelerated learning and to acquire relevant skills under Industry 4.0 domain.”

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