By Dr. Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group and Anannke Foundation
As the budget 2021 is just a few days away, and almost every sector is harbouring some expectations from the budget of 2021. After covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world the budget 2021 has become all more important. Every sector is looking up to Budget 2021 for getting the most awaited relief. And amidst these things, one sector that has been scaling new heights and also pivoting is the education sector which has its own demands and expectations from the Budget 2021.
Thus, Budget 2021-22 announcements within the education sector could prove to be a decisive milestone in the lives of India’s youth.
Booster for edtech: This pandemic has laid bare the wide fissures existing in the education sector. The inadequate infrastructure for online education in the midst of a pandemic posed a formidable challenge for the students, especially in rural India. Thus the 2021 budget which is being dubbed as a pandemic budget must address this issue.
Thus the most important steps should be taken first. These most important steps constitute an improvement in internet accessibility all across India. The government’s step in consolidating the edtech infrastructure during this pandemic has attracted a fair share of praise but this budget should address the gaping holes and loopholes prevalent in the edtech sectors.
One initiative that everyone is expecting the government to come up with is to give financial assistance to students from downtrodden sections of the society who could not continue their education as they did not have access to gadgets and stable internet connection.
So the government should not squander the opportunity to revamp the digital education infrastructure and make it in such a way that in future any big disruption could not adversely impact the education system.
Boosting Spending On Schools
Another fall out of this pandemic- that it will lead to lakh and crores of people plunging into poverty and debt traps. So that would also lead to the falling literacy ratio amongst the poorer section of the society. And even many reports have brought to the fore that the students drop out ratio has risen substantially. Thus those who can’t afford the expense of private education will resort to the govt schools and colleges. Thus in this pandemic budget the government should step up expenditure on schools and colleges and should also open up new schools and colleges especially in rural India and this would be beneficial not only in the pandemic times but also have a positive impact in the post-pandemic world.
Stepping Up Expenditure on Research
We all know how science and research played a crucial role in at least mitigating the damage unleashed by this pandemic. From testing kits to vaccine everything was a brainchild of the researchers and their efforts. As we know India’s research and development have touched many new milestones but one thing that is pretty clear is that India has not been able to unlock the full potential of bright minds across India. The reason can be attributed to not adequate research infrastructure. Also, the Indian education system has not pushed research to an extent that it should be pushed for. So in this budget, the education sector is expecting that the current dispensation sensing the need for R&D will step up spending on research infrastructure across India and will also strive to shape up the research-oriented curriculum.
Assistance For Poor and Disadvantage
In India, there is a huge section that leaves education in between due to the lack of resources and because of being financially weak. That phenomenon is equally pervasive in urban and rural India. To boost India’s literacy rate and to stride India on the path of development, in this budget the government should try to allocate more for the assistance of needy and poor people who really can’t afford the education.
So in this budget, the education sector is looking for more assistance programmes and more scholarship schemes both for rural and urban poor.