What remains to be seen is how effectively the government will drive its proposed agenda to achieve the targets of access, equity and quality in education
Much has been debated about the recent Budget and its potential to influence various key sectors, including the education sector. However, it may perhaps be too early to evaluate the precise impact that this year’s Budget could have on education and skill development in the country. But, in light of the proposals rolled out, the intent of the new government appears to be crystal clear—it means business.
Currently, India is spending 3.5% of its GDP on education annually. Gauging the pivotal role that education needs to play in the socio-economic growth of the country, the new government has emphasised its intent to increase the budgetary allocation to about 6% of the GDP.
It is observed that the government has attempted to follow a balanced approach, giving equal priority to all segments across the sector with the focus being on increasing capacity, accessibility and quality of education, promotion of virtual classrooms and online education, launching teacher training programmes for improving learning outcomes as well as addressing key challenges of bridging manpower demand and supply for industry through skill development. Supporting girl-child education also figures prominently on the government’s agenda. In this context, some of the key highlights from the Budget are:
School education—top priority: In a bid to drive quality education and teaching and to strengthen infrastructure, the government has infused R28,635 crore and R4,966 crore for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), respectively. This is expected to improve accessibility and thus the quality of school education. Addressing the need for adequately trained teachers adopting modern educational tools and techniques which is essential for improved educational outcomes, the Budget has provisioned R500 crore for teacher training programmes. Additionally, R30 crore has been allocated for the school assessment programme, aimed at assessing the quality of school education.
Focus on higher and technical education—here to stay: The increased Budget outlay of R6,338 crore for technical education comprising, amongst others, IITs and IIMs, is expected to boost intake capacity and improve access. Investments of R500 crore for setting up five new IITs and five new IIMs, and four new AIIMS campuses, are expected to facilitate widespread access to quality education. To increase effectiveness and continued focus on quality, equity and access, the government has increased its Budget outlay for