First budget of the Modi-led government has evoked mixed reactions from the education industry.
For the school education sector, the government believes that some of the initiatives of the previous government: the Mid-day meals and the Right to Education focused only on enrolments of children into the schools. The new government however believes that there should be a focus on quality and learning outcomes, instead. Therefore, there has been a major reduction in allocation for both the schemes. Besides, the government appears to have made up its mind on upgrading the infrastructure of 80,000 govt schools, a step in the right direction.
In higher education, the govt. has promised easy loans for the youth and also set up many institutes such as IITs, IIMs, AIMS and other professional & job oriented institutes across the country. This shows an increased focus on employability of the youth. These are good initiatives, though the challenge for the government will now be to maintain the standard of these new institutes so that the brand name of IITs and IIMs is not diluted.
However, I believe the education sector should have had got service tax redemption, but that did not happen. Instead, the service tax and education-cess has gone up to 14% from 12.36%, which is not good. Because of this, an additional burden of the increased service tax will be levied on the general people.
It is a welcome step that the focus of Government is fast shifting from “Literacy” and “Education” to “Skill Development” and “Educating to Employment” . India has an increasing number of “working” population and out of which hardly 37% are employable (Source: India Skills Report 2015 by PeopleStrong, Wheebox, CII & LinkedIn). The initiatives like National Skills Mission for skill development and entrepreneurship (fund of 1500 cr), focus on Skill India campaign and increasing the reach and quality of education will definitely speed up the progress on the path towards Skilled and Employable workforce, and will work towards the “Quantum Jump” that the Finance Minister is looking for.
We welcome the sizable budgetary allocation for the education sector in the Union Budget that reflects government’s commitment to the sector.
The budget promises to start a school assessment programme and aims to infuse new training tools and initiatives to motivate teachers. This is a step in the right direction as the lack of trained teachers is a big hurdle in improving education outcomes. As an organisation, committed to the concept of efficacy in education, it is reassuring to hear about the greater involvement of Government on improving the quality of education and making it more leaner and outcome focused.
The budget however lacks clarity on the question of private investment in education and doesn’t provide fiscal incentives to attract private sector investment in education sector.