Union Budget 2021 Live Updates: The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is presenting a paperless Union Budget 2021-22 setting the ball rolling for the next fiscal on a tablet switching over from the traditional Swadeshi 'bahi khata'. Like many, Education sector is one of the key areas to be watched out.
Being one of the major sectors to be severely hit during the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the lives of over 32 crore students throughout the country, the Education Budget 2021 is one of the key focus areas of the Modi government.
Speaking on Education as the forth pillar of Union Budget 2021, under "Reinvigorating Human Capital" theme, the Finance Minister said the National Education Policy (NEP) launched recently has received a good reception.
Education Budget 2021: School And Higher Education
Elaborating on the Education Budget 2021 and focus areas of Education, Nirmala Sitharaman said, "In the area of School Education, more than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of NEP to emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, besides hand-holding and mentoring other schools to achieve the ideals of policy (NEP)."
Another 100 new Sanik Schools will be set up in partnership with NGOs, with NGOs, private schools and States, the Finance Minister added.
Speaking about her government's commitment towards Higher Education in her Education Budget 2021, the Finance Minister said that a legislation for setting up of a Higher Education Commission (HSC) that will act as an umbrella body for the purpose of standard setting, accreditation, regulation and funding.
The Minister also spoke of creating a formal umbrella structure in nine major cities housing institutions, universities, colleges supported by Govt. of India for better synergy while retaining their internal autonomy aided by 'glue grant' for the purpose. A Central University in Leh to make Higher Education accessible in Ladakh region as part of the National Education Policy (NEP) will be set up, the further stated in her Union Budget 2021 speech.
Education Budget 2021 For SC/ST Welfare
Highlighting Centre's commitment towards the welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC) And Scheduled Tribe (ST), Sitharaman said that a proposal to establish 750 "Ekalavya Model Residential Schools" in Tribal areas is underway with a proposed increase in the unit cost of each such school from 20 crores to 38 crores up to 48 crores for hilly/difficult areas.
The Centre's also revamping of existing post-matric scholarship schemes for the welfare of Scheduled Caste (SC) students with enhanced central assistance allocation of 35,219 crores for six years till 2025-26 that is likely to benefit 4 crore students from the SC community.
Education Budget 2021 For Skill India Initiatives
The Finance Minister also spoke about amending the Apprenticeship Act as part of "Skill India" initiative with a view to further enhance apprenticeship opportunities for youth by realigning the existing schemes of national apprenticeship training scheme for providing post-education apprenticeship, training of Graduates and Diploma holders in engineering by allocating over 3 crores to be provided for this purpose, and collaborating with UAE, Japan and other countries on skill assessment, certification and facilitate transfer of industrial and vocational skills, techniques and knowledge.
Education Budget 2021 Expectations
Irrespective of what the Union Budget 2021 entails for the Education sector, here are a few expectations that are likely to find their way in the budgetary presentation to be made on February 01, 2021.
Increase In Budgetary Allocation: The budgetary allocation to education sector is likely go up from the previous 99,300 crores in the Union Budget 2021, including for Skill Development towards the education budget, with a possible increase in investment up to 6% of GDP for education sector through cooperation between Centre and the States.
Focus On NEP 2020: The Union Budget 2021 is likely focus on the implementation of National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) in a strategic manner on a pan-India scale aimed at bringing about 'transformational reforms' in school and higher education systems in India by pushing for 'universalization of education' through enhancing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by ensuring sufficient fund flow.
Promote EdTech: With technology having transformed the learning process, especially with pandemic impacting the conventional educational process and pedagogy, the Education Budget 2021 is likely promote and give a boost to the digital education, AI learning and other evolving technologies through greater investment in the said areas like the setting up of a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), which will serve as an autonomous body providing platform for free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
Enhancing Education Quality: The Education Budget 2021 is likely to also touch upon improving the quality of education across all levels - primary to university either through improvising on schemes like SamagraShiksha, RUSA, SPARCH, IMPRINT, TEQIP, SWAYAM, etc. or through launching of new schemes besides focusing on enhancing and building the capabilities of schools and teachers through integrated teacher training programmes like NISHTHA.
Easing Education Loans: Another area of focus in Union Budget 2021 for Education is expected to be on easing of education and study loans for students that is serving as a deterrent for scores of students in pursing their dream course and academic programmes. Cutting down the interest-rates of education loans will be a key factor in Education Budget 2021.
These form some of the primary expectations for Education Budget 2021 that will be presented alongside the Union Budget 2021-22 on February 1, 2021 by the Union Finance Minister.
Several education and academic experts have also opined about their expectations from the upcoming Union Budget 2021 for Education sector or from the Education Budget 2021.
Ms. Piya Marker, Director - Head of School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School (TABIS) on her expectations from the Education Budget 2021 said, "As a special educator, I believe that if there is an allocated investment per child having learning disabilities to meet their academic needs, we will be able to help reduce the alarming rate of children facing this challenge. Curriculum design and levels of achievement must be conducive to including those with academic potential despite their learning disabilities. The Government of India on its part can also take steps to encourage students who face such issues by enabling a favourable atmosphere for students, their parents as well as educators.
"If I were to be given a wish list for the upcoming Union Budget, I would want all teaching and medical courses to have an in-depth learning dedicated to the different types of learning disabilities, their prognosis and modes of treatment and school access. Further, the Government can encourage more schools across the country to include children with learning disabilities, by offering them subsidies in order to ensure that the students are able to graduate from these schools with higher proficiency enabling them to lead a successful life," Ms. Piya Marker added.