Budget 2021 and its reactions for Education Sector

National Language translation mission to translate policy-related information that will be available on the internet in regional languages. This is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which emphasises creating content and delivery of content in regional languages.

From a central university in Leh to apprenticeship for graduates and diploma holders, the Union Budget 2021 has focussed on skilling students. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today presented her third budget. Due to the announcement of the National Education Policy last year, there is a demand for an implementation plan, focus on digital infrastructure and more fund allocation.

Ministry of education got an allocation of Rs 93,224 crores. Of the total, the school education and literacy section was allotted the majority of funds with Rs 54873.66 crore, and the remaining Rs 38,350.65 crore was allotted to the higher education sector. Last year, govt had allocated Rs 99300 crore for the education sector, with an additional allocation of Rs 3000 crore for skill development.

Key measures announced for Education Sector in Union Budget 2021

Setting up regional national institutes for virology.

Over 15,000 schools to be qualitatively strengthened under National Education Policy 2021 , 100 new Sainik Schools to be set up in partnership with NGOs Govt proposes to amend the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme to enhance opportunities for youthIn Budget 201-20, the govt had announced about setting-up of Higher Education Commission of India. Govt will introduce Legislation this year to implement the same. It will be an Umbrella body having 4 separate vehicles for standard-getting, accreditation, regulation, and funding Govt to set-up 750 Eklavya model residential schools in tribal areas. FM says modalities worked out for national research foundation; earmarks Rs 50,000 cr over five years Post Matric Scholarship schemes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes enhanced. Govt allocated a budget of Rs 35,21 cr for 6 years till 2025-26, to benefit 4 cr SC students Central University to be set up in Leh

National Language translation mission to translate policy-related information that will be available on the internet in regional languages. This is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which emphasises creating content and delivery of content in regional languages.

Government proposes portal to collect info on gig-workers, building and construction workers, among others.

Govt plans to create formal umbrella structures to ensure better synergy among research institutions, universities, and colleges supported by the Government of India. A Glue Grant will be set aside for this purpose.

Senior and retired teachers will act as mentors of school teachers and educators through constant online and offline support on subjects, themes, and pedagogy.

CBSE Board exam reforms, as mentioned in NEP, will be implemented in a phased manner to be effective from the 2022-23 academic session. Exams will move away from rote-learning and students will be tested on their conceptual clarity, analytical skills, and application of knowledge to real-life situations, as mentioned in NEP 2020.

A National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) will be set up within the context of a digital-first mindset where the Digital Architecture will not only support teaching and learning activities but also educational planning, governance and administrative activities of the Centre and the States/ Union Territories. It will provide a diverse education eco-system architecture for the development of digital infrastructure, a federated but interoperable system that will ensure autonomy of all stakeholders, especially States and UTs.

Education Minister’s reaction to the budget

Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ lauded the Union Budget 2021-22 and expressed his gratitude to Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman for giving a major boost to education. Pokhriyal highlighted that the Budget allocation for the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS), has been substantially increased from Rs. 175 Cr to Rs. 500 crore. He also said that an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore over the next five years for National Research Foundation (NRF) will give a major boost to Innovation and R&D. The Minister said in a big boost to the education sector allocation of KVS has increased by Rs 362.32 crore and allocation of NVS increased to Rs. 320 crore. The budget allocation of NCERT increased to Rs.110.08 crore.

Industry reaction to the budget

Mr. Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India

“The budget highlighted some of the initiatives such as the development of National Professional Standards for Teachers, CBSE board exams to test students on their conceptual clarity and analytical skills, academic collaboration with foreign higher educational institutions and setting-up of Higher Education Commission of India. The announcement towards building the research ecosystem in collaboration and Training Inter Training Programme (TITP) with countries like Japan will enhance teaching, learning and transfer skills among learners. I am confident that ‘The Apprenticeship Act’ by the government will improve opportunities for students further helping them to progress and become employable.

Skill development has been crucial and the collaboration with United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a significant step as it will set the criteria for skill qualifications, assessment and certification. Under the National Education Policy, government proposed to strengthen 15000 schools initially for its implementation across the country, which will set the foundation for the new-age education system of 21st century. All eyes are on its execution to bring about deeper transformational shift and accomplishing the objectives of inclusive and excellent education system. We are very optimistic that these moves shall yield high impact results.”

Prateek Kanwal, Co-Founder Kautilya School of Public Policy

“The year 2021 has brought in new hope among the people of India as 2020 robbed the country of its basic needs and the education sector suffered the worst fate due to COVID-19. Primary education had to be tended to and our Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman has paid close attention to this aspect in this year’s Union Budget. Bolstering the quality of primary and higher schooling, Sitaraman has announced more than 15,000 schools under the National Education Policy along with 100 new Sainik Schools. By setting up 750 Eklavya residential school in tribal areas, the minister has allowed for upliftment of students under SC&ST section.  From Proposing the foundation of a Central University in Leh to a Higher Education Commission for accreditation and regular funding of Colleges and Universities, the budget has proved to be a boon for academia this fiscal year. Going big on funding and budgetary allocations, it will be interesting to inculcate a stronger sense of schooling in students across all sections of the economy.  It is of great pride to see the research ecosystem being adhered to as well.” 

Nitin Potdar, Partner J. Sagar Associates

“An allocation of 3,002.21 crores to skill development ministry and its various programmes is a welcome step but not sure whether that’s enough given the current pandemic and need to create a digital infrastructure for education.  Higher Education Commission, an Umbrella body to regulate education, is a welcome step and hopefully would provide clarity and ease for educational institutions to introduce multiple academic programs.  However, there is a disappointment due to no relief from the burdensome 18% GST on Edtech industry which is doing a massive job of educating our next generation”.

Manit Jain, Chairman, FICCI ARISE; Co-founder, The Heritage Group of Schools – In order to fulfil the objectives established by the National Education Policy, spends in the education sector need to go up substantially. Given the economic crisis that we are in due to Covid and that there several competing social sectors that demand great attention, it is high time that the State and Central governments invite private capital to invest in education. This would mean higher investments through the private sector and FDI which could then be regulated by a government body.

As per UNDP estimates, the total financial requirement for India to reach SDG 4 by 2030 averages $173 billion per year, far exceeding the current government budget of $76.4 billion a year for education. Government schools spend about Rs 24,000-30,000 per child per annum, while in private schools, 91% of students pay lower than Rs 24,000 per annum. In contrast the average per student expense in the US is about $13,000 per annum.

Schools will only invest in post-Covid-19 technologies if there is some predictability in regulation and freedom of salaries, fees, and curriculum. We have been wishing for opening up and formalising the sector and ensuring long term responsible and patient capital, giving the much- needed confidence to potential investors to invest in the sector and expect legitimate RoI as spoken about several times in the past. 

Sunil Dahiya, Executive Vice President, Wadhwani Opportunity at Wadhwani Foundation, on the National Apprenticeship Scheme of 3000 crore – The proposed amendment of the Apprenticeship Act in the. Budget has the potential to reboot and revitalize our education and training systems with a view to further enhance apprenticeship opportunities for our youth. Apprenticeship could be the best model to skill India’s blue-collar workforce as it will transform the student into a fully-trained industry executive with real-time exposure to shop-floor dynamics. It will not just enhance employability and reduce joblessness, but from an employer perspective, it will lead to improved skills, productivity and professionalism.

Aditya Malik, CEO & MD, Talentedge – The Union Budget 2021-22 has proposed some forward-looking measures for the education sector in the country. The proposal to set up 100 new Sainik schools in partnership with NGOs, the private sector and the states will not only expand the school base in this area but will also bring in synergies from the NGO and private sector. The proposal for creating new formal umbrella structures in 9 states will also be good for coordination of states and bringing in synergies. There are also some good proposals for higher education including the registration of Higher Education Commission to act as an umbrella body with 4 separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation and funding. The government has also announced several proposals for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students which will help bring them into mainstream education. This includes the establishment of 750 Eklavya model schools in tribal areas and the allotment of Rs 35,219 crore for the benefit of these students for the next six years. The outlay for the Eklavya schools has also been increased.

The proposal to strengthen over 15,000 schools qualitatively under the new National Education Policy (NEP) is also the need of the hour especially to align with the vision of the NEP which talks of use of technology and digitization of education. These schools will act as exemplar schools in their regions for mentoring others.

The proposal to amend the Apprentice Act to further enhance apprenticeship opportunities for our youth is forward looking and will help this sector. At the same time, the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme of 2016 will be enhanced to provide apprenticeship opportunities for students. The proposal to realign the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) will provide post-education apprenticeship, training to graduates and diploma holders in engineering. This will further the government’s initiative for an Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

Vishnu Karthik, CEO Xperiential Learning Systems and Director, The Heritage School – Education sector has been seriously hit post Covid both in terms of financial sustainability and also in terms of learning outcomes. This budget hasn’t had anything specific to expand budgetary spend to offset covid impact. But it is not surprising as there is not much fiscal cushion this year for the Government. Setting up 100 sainik schools is a good step but would at best be a small ripple in terms of impact. But the 750 eklavya model for impoverished communities is a great step but we hope that private operators are invited to set up model schools. We hoped to see more clarity on setting up institutions to strengthen assessments on critical skills enumerated by the NEP and hope that the MHRD provides clarity on this sooner. 

Shishir Jaipuria, Chairman, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions – The education sector will get to benefit from the Union Budget presented by the honourable Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, today. The budget paves the way for a phased implementation of the National Education Policy with the first step of bringing 15,000 schools across India under the policy’s ambit. This will help minimize any widespread disruption in the pedagogical processes or curriculum, as these schools will serve as models for the other schools to follow. The other schools will draw their lessons from these model schools for a smoother implementation of NEP in the future. I also welcome the move to set up Sainik Schools and Eklavya Schools as these will help bring more equality in education. I strongly endorse the proposal for National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST), as expressed in annexure 5 of the budget. This proposal will set an important benchmark for teaching standards in Indian educational institutes.  

Charu Wahi, Principal Nirmal Bhartia School – The prolonged closure of educational institutions for almost a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic has put immense duress with schools feeling the heat of financial stress now.

The qualitative strengthening of more than 15,000 schools under the New Education Policy (NEP) shall assist in achieving the ideals of the policy. In addition, the setting up of a 100 Sainik schools is a good step that will further create a ripple effect in terms of impact. The 750 Eklavya model Schools for impoverished communities is a great move too, and we hope that private schools are also engaged in the setting up of these schools. 

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