A digital university to be built on a “hub-and-spoke” model and the expansion of the “one class one television channel” program across 200 channels to provide complementary education in regional languages at school are among the major initiatives proposed in the education sector by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on Tuesday.
In presenting the budget for 2022-23, the Minister of Finance acknowledged that due to the pandemic-induced school closures, children, especially in rural areas, and those from Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and other weaker sections, lost nearly two years of formal education.
Here’s what people in the education sector have to say about the proposed initiatives
Ujwala Chakradeo (VC, SNDT)
The Union Budget 2022-23 can be rated 8/10. This budget emphasized long-awaited rural development through the agricultural sector, agricultural universities, digitalization of land reform, incentivization of organic farming and start-ups, etc. at zero cost, and organic farming, as well as modern farming.
“A Classroom TV Channel” to compensate for the learning loss caused by the pandemic will also be very useful, mainly to rural students who have not been able to benefit from online teaching-learning in the absence of access to digital devices. The PM eVidya program will expand from 12 to 200 channels to provide additional learning in regional languages for all students in grades 1-12. Quality electronic content will be created in a variety of ways. Teachers will be trained to apply more effective online learning outcomes.
Five Centers of Excellence would be established, each with an endowment fund of Rs. 250 crore, for courses in urban planning that will contribute to the development of the urban sector. The SNDT Women’s University of Mumbai aspires to undertake such a centre. As an urban planner, I was delighted to see the consideration given to safe and green urban spaces.
The start of the Digital University is a welcome idea. A digital university will be developed and launched with the aim of providing students with access to world-class quality education. However, the budget promoting digitalization in the education sector has given no incentive in terms of increasing the budget allocation for the sector. This was expected in light of the implementation of the National Education Policy – 2020.
Integrated development of women and children will certainly take place through Mission Vatsalya and Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan. Redesigning the skills development program through the Digital DESH e-portal will help young people upskill, upskill and retrain. This is the need of the hour because the country must take advantage of the demographic dividend.
Almost everyone had expected some concession in personal income tax and EMI on home loans, but the budget was silent on that part, which was a bit of a disappointment on the front of individuals. There has been little to lift the spirits of the depressed real estate sector which was also one of the expectations of this budget. Overall, the budget has been a balanced budget where all sectors are taken into account and benefit from development incentives.
Dr Srinivasan R Iyengar (Director – Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, JBIMS
The education sector had high hopes for the 2022 budget given that in the last two budgets, allocations for the education sector had decreased. So far, the budget announcements don’t seem to live up to expectations.
Some of the initiatives in this budget like a focus on digital education, creation of centers of excellence, job creation, a boost for agricultural universities, skills development programs are heart warming .
Over the last two years of the pandemic, some shortcomings in the education sector have come to light. Blended learning is here to stay. Both teachers and students have realized the convenience and effectiveness of online education. Another aspect of online education is that substantial funding is needed to develop electronic content. In this context, the focus on digital education is welcome. However, the task of making every school and college digitally capable is a daunting task and the government needs to lift a few to help educational institutions in this area.
Traditional institutes of higher education need special support from the government as they compete with private institutions and the education technology sector which abounds in private funding.
If the country is to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, it must go beyond the incremental approach and rethink the means of financing the development of the education sector.
The rating for the 2022 budget is 8/10 because I believe the budget is a step in the right direction and aims to bring about changes in the system. It is a balanced and pro-growth budget.
Posted: Tuesday 01 February 2022, 17:31 IST