Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present her third budget to parliament on February 1, with a focus on revitalizing the economy suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic had a profound impact on the education sector, forcing institutions to invest in e-learning methods to stay afloat, as classes remained closed amid restrictions the center announced to contain the virus.
Hundreds of colleges and technical schools have had to close permanently overnight in a difficult work environment and due to lack of funds for permanent access to e-learning solutions. Given the economic stress, the education sector will have high expectations for the next budget.
At a time when investments in digital infrastructure are at an unprecedented pace, the education sector expects the central government to somehow relax the GST of the previous 18%. The move will encourage institutions to access improved e-learning solutions, thereby increasing enrollment rates in e-learning.
India spends only 3.1% of its GDP on education. Last year, the central government increased the allocation of funds for the education sector by 5 percent to 99,311 rupees. Since then, the government has introduced a new educational policy.
Here are the quotes from industry leaders before the budget-
Prof (Dr.) Sanjiv Marwah, Director, JK Business School said “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.”
Piya Marker, Director – Head of School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School (TABIS) said “As a special educator, I believe that if there is an allocated investment per child having learning disabilities to meet their academic needs, we will be able to help reduce the alarming rate of children facing this challenge. Curriculum design and levels of achievement must be conducive to including those with academic potential despite their learning disabilities. The Government of India on its part can also take steps to encourage students who face such issues by enabling a favourable atmosphere for students, their parents as well as educators. If I were to be given a wish list for the upcoming Union Budget, I would want all teaching and medical courses to have an in-depth learning dedicated to the different types of learning disabilities, their prognosis and modes of treatment and school access. Further, the Government can encourage more schools across the country to include children with learning disabilities, by offering them subsidies in order to ensure that the students are able to graduate from these schools with higher proficiency enabling them to lead a successful life.”
Sumeet Mehta, LEAD School Cofounder & CEO said “The pandemic has severely impacted education in our country with over 200 million children losing out a year full of schooling. This situation is even more dire in smaller towns and cities in India where affordable private schools have struggled to provide requisite online learning since last year owing to lack of technology infrastructure, school fees and teachers who were equipped to teach online. In addition to students and parents, teachers too have been severely impacted as many faced job cuts or mental pressures to train themselves quickly to adopt to online teaching. In view of these disruptions in the learning process, it is important that some corrective methods through fiscal measures be undertaken in the upcoming general budget.”
Gaurav Bhagat, Founder, Gaurav Bhagat Academy said “As one of the most impacted sectors because of the pandemic the education sector is in dire need of support from the Government and the budget will be a great opportunity to set the wheels in motion. The finance ministry along with state governments should look at initiatives that will help students, faculty and also the owners / promoters / management of educational institutions. Education loans are hard to come to come by and also costly. As the sector looks at bouncing back it would help if the Government could cut the interest rates here and also rationalize the process to include quicker online and paperless approval.”