The COVID-19 pandemic led to many issues plaguing India’s education sector that need to be redressed in the Union Budget 2022. Industry experts expect the government to allocate funds for this sector and reduce its tax burden.
The announcement of New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 was a significant development in the education sector in the last few years. However, many experts have pointed out that it lacked focus on tax relief and digital infrastructure. Moreover, the pandemic caused many educational institutions to shut down and students from underprivileged families to lose access to education.
Many are optimistic about Budget 2022 to address these issues. Read along to know what changes this sector needs.
Challenges for the Goals of NEP 2020
The New Education Policy 2020 will shift India’s education from a 10+2 to a 5+3+3+4 structure. Its main aim is to ensure foundational literacy and numeracy (FNL) for every child by 2025. With this, every child will start schooling at 3 years old and gain the desired competency in reading, writing and numeracy before Third Grade.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has already delayed this mission’s deadline by two years, pushing the target to 2026-27. The School Education Department has stated that no additional funding was allocated towards NIPUN Bharat. Samagra Shiksha scheme too saw a 20% drop in budget allocation in 2021 and poor utilisation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Challenges for Pre-school Education
As per a recent UNICEF survey, 8 out of 10 children aged 3-6 years are enrolled in some early childhood care and education (ECCE)program. However, this number varies wildly between various states- for example, UP has 43.7% participation while Karnataka has 86.6% participation.
There is also a wide variation in the quality of ECCE services for different types of pre-schools. Unlike most private schools that provide high-quality education, care, protection, sanitation and hygiene, most Anganwadi centres (AWCs) lack child-friendly facilities and teachers with adequate training.
AWCs are also a platform for nutrition and immunisation; with a single AWC supposed to provide for 400-800 people, AWCs will need to increase in number, available space and infrastructure in the next few years.
The upcoming budget will also need to solve problems of malnutrition among children. So, the upcoming budget should increase allocation for Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNP).
Given are some more expectations for the Union Budget 2022.
Increase in Budget Allocation for Education
As the average worldwide income increases, so does the resources spent on education. As a result, many experts believe that the Government of India (GOI) needs to increase allocation from 3% to 6% of the nation’s GDP.
The government needs to fund everything from technology up-gradation, infrastructure, maintenance of current assets and new research. More, India’s youth will not remain young forever, so there’s limited time to invest in the country’s unique demographic dividend opportunity.
GST Concessions and Regulations for the Ed-tech Sector
The ed-tech sector needs government support to ramp up its efforts in producing affordable and accessible education. Unlike conventional school education, which is excluded from paying GST, technology-based ed-tech enterprises have to pay 18% GST. This can be lowered in the upcoming budget so these startups can offer affordable products and services.
In addition to providing funds for small and mid-sized startups, the government can frame regulations for the burgeoning ed-tech sector. This would make policy frameworks from time to time to streamline the recognition process of products, courses and solutions while ensuring quality.
Need to Build Education Infrastructure
The need for virtual classes in colleges has become a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the cost of higher education is already high, and internet costs increase it even more. Many students don’t even have access to a laptop or stable internet connection.
With the widespread adoption of online and hybrid learning models, the government needs to provide means of high-speed internet connectivity to everyone. Hence, the budget 2022 should provide means to expedite the BharatNet project. It should also provide funds to build a powerful cyber security infrastructure to prevent threats across all sectors.
Upscaling India’s Workforce
The Union Budget 2022 should also recognise the need for working adults for lifelong learning and upgrading of skills. The education sector will need to encourage lifelong learning and reskilling facilities for India’s workforce so that it can retain its value.
As per industry experts, 54% of the workforce in the world will need to reskill and up, and 42% of core skills will change by 2022. As such, an Atmanirbhar Bharat will need to provide benefits to both employers and employees to keep on learning.
With COVID-19 presenting many challenges to the education sector, the Union Budget 2022 will need to provide funds to strengthen it. The National Education Policy 2022 has made several recommendations to improve standards of pre-school education and strengthen digital learning.
Increasing budget allocation towards education would reduce the digital divide, check dropouts and implement NEP 2020 faster. Concessions for ed-tech startups and e-learning platforms would boost the digital education sector.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do pre-primary schools and pre-schools have different requirements for classrooms?
Classrooms for children below six years need to have separate playing areas, activity areas, teaching tools, facilities for art and craft and audio-visual rooms.
- Why do pre-school teachers need additional training?
Pre-school children have unique requirements, so their teachers need the training to understand their developmental aspects. They need to observe and assess children and liaise with their parents to address development issues.
- Why are subsidies on digital devices necessary for 2022?
The prolonged effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for e-learning and its nationwide accessibility. Nowadays, students need access to digital devices like laptops and tablets for learning. That is why GOI may want to announce subsidies on them.
Disclaimer: This blog is exclusively for educational purposes and does not provide any advice/tips on investment or recommend buying and selling any stock.