Budget 2019 India: Sentiments across the education sector have been primarily positive post Budget announcements. Increased fund allocation to schools (12.8%) and higher education (14.3%) is commendable. In fact, at Rs 400 crore, the allocation is over three times revised estimates for last year.
As the finance minister noted, five years ago, India was nowhere in the top-200 world university rankings. However, thanks to initiatives like GYAN, three of its institutions, including two IITs and IISc Bangalore, have made it to the list.
Focus on research: The NEP will help India increase its global presence by stressing on areas like research and innovation, as also setting up world-class institutions. This will supplement its plans to promote ‘Study in India’ programme and attract foreign students. The government plans to present a draft legislation for setting up the Higher Education Commission of India. Then there is the proposal to establish the National Research Foundation.
Skill development: Considering the evolution of technology and the nature of jobs, demographic trends point towards skill shortages in the future. The government will focus on imparting practical working knowledge to professionals in innovative technologies such as AI, big data, 3D printing, robotics, etc.
Edtech industry: As more and more start-ups are entering edtech space, there is a proposal of a new channel under the Doordarshan bouquet to provide a platform to them to disseminate information.
But the government has overlooked a few issues that have been restricting educators and students from realising their full potential. Edtech industry expected the government to scrap GST on online video tutorials (18%) and on e-books (5%). However, the Budget did not mention any change in this area. A revision in rates coupled with measures to empower the edtech industry will provide a fillip to the economy. It remains to be seen when will the government take these steps.