Budget 2021: Wishlist from the Indian education sector

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Before Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduce the first paperless Union Budget on February 1, 2021.

Here is the wishlist of the education sector for the forthcoming Union Budget 2021:

Mr. Nitish Jain, President, SP Jain School of Global Management:

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“Jeff Bezos recently said that the 21st century will belong to India. For this to materialize, India would need to improve its ease of doing business from 63 in the world to be in the top 30. In 2020 India got over $50 billion in FDI inflows but it has the potential to get over $100 billion. This could be a game-changer and given the anti-China wave, it is possible. I am very optimistic about the budget as I am sure that the Government will seize the opportunity.” 

Allan Andersen, Director, Chaman Bhartiya School: 

“The pandemic has changed the way schools were conducted and classes here hosted in the past. The education sector has been massively hit by the pandemic. It has witnessed a great shift in terms of transitioning offline education to online platforms, overnight. During this period India saw a boom in the already growing edtech category, considering the role they have played in diminishing the digital divide in the education sector. This year the budget needs to be prudent with initiatives towards making India a global destination for education. This year’s budget needs to lay a strong foundation for expediting the transformation of India into a global hotspot for education. The hopefulness of the budget is to enable the technological infrastructure that will boost the robust economy. The focus this year should be on the implementation of NEP and providing quality education to the students.”

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

“The upcoming Union Budget 2021-22 is very crucial for the education sector. The government has already announced the ambitious National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020, which emphasizes digitalization in education delivery. India is also home to the world’s largest K12 population & therefore investing in the K12 segment is very important, as early childhood education plays a vital role in building the foundation of an individual’s life and also the country. We are hopeful and looking forward to the government to issue the guidelines on the implementation of NEP 2020 and appropriately allocate the budget for the education sector, and especially in the K12 segment.”

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Rohit Jain Co-Founder DUX Education:

”The key question is how can we promote education – both in terms of increasing the spending capacity of the parents and encouraging new-age companies to step in and bring in new ways of learning. We believe that the need of the hour is to provide tax exemption on educational expenses, which would encourage the parents to spend not just on regular tuitions but also towards building co-curricular and extra-curricular skills in the children. We also expect the government to significantly reduce the GST on education companies.

Online education is not the future anymore. We are living the change as we speak. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers are not equipped to teach in such an environment. There should be a pie of the budget towards education that goes into developing these skills for all tutors.”

Som Sharma Founder & Director Edu Brain Group:

The education sector is facing drastic challenges due to the ongoing pandemic and budget FY 2021 is going to play a pivotal role in reviving the education system. The Education sector witnessed a key development last year in form of National Education Policy 2020 (NEP-2020) which was unveiled by the Narendra Modi government to bring reforms. The New Education Policy (NEP-2020) brought aggressive changes in the Higher Education System of our country – provided flexibility in the learning curve, emphasized conceptual understanding, and blended learning. These factors are essential for enumerating education, employment, and skills development. To bridge the digital divide and strengthen India’s promising edtech, startup ecosystem, we expect the government to provide better internet infrastructure, robust data protection systems, and more tax exemptions in the upcoming Union Budget.   

Tarun Goel Director of TDII – The Design Institute of India:

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the education sector has been facing innumerable challenges & students of all ages have gone through a rough patch in terms of loss of valuable classroom learning & interaction, So the hopes/expectations are that the 2021-22 budget is going to play a significant role in reviving the education system and setting the pace for our new National Education Policy (NEP) for the development of the education sector in India.

1. Setting up bank schemes for providing student loans in the private education sector.

2. Providing financial support to private sector institutions to facilitate low-cost and zero cost loans to students.

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3. The Government should increase the expenditure on education in the upcoming budget to focus on the execution of the new policy, quality of education, and skill development which will further pave the way for more skilled jobs. 

4. Setting up an organization to regulate & support private education colleges & institutes (like UGC) to facilitate structural development in private education. 

5. Set up an organization to provide funds & facilities for the upgradation of infrastructure of public & private higher education and professional institutions to provide world class education to students of all sections & strata’s of our country. 

6. Providing funds for creating a centralized training & placement organization to provide skilled jobs to more & more students

Sparsh Garg, Founder, and CEO, Educlouds:

“According to a KPMG estimate, the number of edtech startups in the country grew to 3,500 in the previous year. As per Government projections, India’s edtech expenditure could rise to $10 trillion by 2030. The ‘everything virtual’ norm set by the pandemic has ushered in a new era of edtech growth and online education in India. Penetrating deeper into Urban and Rural India these unique tech-enabled platforms are consistently shaping the future of education in India. 

To bridge the digital divide and strengthen India’s promising edtech startup ecosystem, we expect the government to provide better internet infrastructure, robust data protection systems, and more tax exemptions in the upcoming Union Budget. By ensuring round-the-clock reliability of electricity supply, accessible and affordable high-speed internet, deeper penetration of cheaper connectivity devices such as notebooks, laptops, smartphones, etc. To every nook and corner of the country, Government can support India in becoming the Global Hub for Digital Education. 

By creating a unique ecosystem combining traditional and online learning, the government can take the Indian education system to newer heights. By incentivizing the edtech sector, Union Budget can strengthen its roadmap of offering quality education accessible to all through simple and affordable tech innovations. 100% FDI in the inventory-based model will encourage capital for R&D investing disrupting new tech platforms for parents, students, teachers, and educators. Considering the huge contribution of the edtech sector in assuring accessible and affordable education amid the pandemic, the existing 18% GST slab for the edtech sector can be further reduced to make quality digital education a reality for every Indian student.”

Sumeet Verma, Co-founder CEO, KopyKitab:

‘The COVID induced Pandemic has shown a real need for implementing technology in education. Higher education needs it more than ever as it is related to the career and future of the students. 40 million students, teachers, and all the stakeholders in the higher education ecosystem require quality access with affordability, which can be solved by leveraging technology. Bottoms up approach would be of great benefit for the students as they come close to finishing their formal education and look to upskill themselves for becoming industry-ready.

Specific to the education sector, NEP’s implementation would be closely watched by all the stakeholders. However, in this Budget, we would like the FM to extend some relief to the sector in terms of GST and subsidy on education loans given for both formal and skill-based learning. Govt should also look at launching an ed-tech focused fund of funds that will flow into the sector and help small and mid-size ed-tech companies and startups incubated inside campuses to raise the much-needed money for a faster scale-up and better experience using tech.

We would like to suggest designing a framework whereby some of our most prestigious institutes can collaborate with ed-tech companies to provide their students with an international level of exposure and learning because technology can connect Indian students with the best of the teachers anywhere in India and the world. A structured framework around this can help top universities offer such opportunities to their students.”

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

The Union Budget for 2021-2022 is a much-awaited one as it will be the first since the New Education Policy was introduced last year. The Union budget 2021 should give guidelines on the ‘NEP implementation plan’ and further strengthen the focus and investment in Edu-tech to enhance experiential and immersive learning and reinforce the skill development process at par with the global education standards. The stakeholders are eyeing Budget 2021 with a lot of expectations as the government has already signaled allocation of 6% of the GDP towards education. 

Education in India needs to be recognized as an equalizer as a crucial instrument that can bridge the socio-economic divide in our country. Income inequality in India stems from the enormous disparity in learning outcomes after completion of education. And, to address this gap, reallocation of resources from other sectors need to be made and re-routed towards building a level-playing field for all students. Budget 2021 needs to focus on investments towards building a robust system of accountability, checks, and balances to level-up the delivery and quality of higher education. 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.

Dr. Rajendra K Sinha, Professor & Chairperson, Centre of Excellence in Banking, Jagdish Sheth School of Management:

“The job creation, skill development, entrepreneurship, and start-ups encouragement are likely the topmost agenda in this year’s Union Budget.

There is a need for a skill development stimulus package that helps in substantially generating employment opportunities across various sectors. There has to be a substantial budgetary allocation for addressing the challenge of skilling, vocational training, and apprenticeship of the sizeable youth population in the country through enhanced training & skilling activities. The budgetary allocations should be for appropriately addressing the handholding support especially for start-ups by way of financial planning knowledge imparting & acumen ship development in manufacturing with the latest technologies’ knowledge in their workflow & all processes. 

The B-Schools in the country should be encouraged to carry out state-funded project activities for professionally supporting & guiding the start-ups in their ventures at district levels across the country. This initiative will help in professionally preparing and upgrading our start-up entrepreneurs.

The COVID-19 has brought a paradigm shift to remote work and the work-from-home culture in the services sector. Honing data skills, cybersecurity tools and basic training of the entire workforce will be crucial to have a competitive advantage in the days ahead, hence, data scientists with digital skills will be in much demand. Such a working environment would require multi-domain or hybrid roles experts relevant to specific job functions. As the skills to drive digital technologies have become vital and inevitable for Atmanirbhar Bharat, the role of B-Schools in grooming professionals for the new age roles will become increasingly important. 

We expect the government to introduce the start-ups & MSMEs friendly policies, which will facilitate their accelerated business growth and in turn generate more employment opportunities. These incentives could be relating to GST, ease of doing business, and through the infusion of liquidity in the system.”

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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder & Editor of TechGraph.

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