Education sector transformation should be focus of Budget 2020
The Indian education system needs to be overhauled and transformed so that it may harness the resultant talent pool for the economic growth we aspire to achieve

The advent of the fourth industrial revolution places us in the midst of continuous disruption by digital technologies. With education being the key component in shaping the future workforce, the academic system needs transformation through adoption of innovative and contemporary teaching and learning methodologies. Accordingly, the Indian education system will need to focus on creativity and lifelong learning which will be essential in preparation for a career where the key constant will be continuous disruptions. It is envisaged that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.

The draft National Education Policy (NEP 2019) is a step in this direction. It envisages a complete transformation of the education system during the student lifecycle, from pre-school to higher education. The proposed transformation as stated in NEP 2019 will require changes in pedagogy and consequently, teachers will need capacity development. Teaching and learning approaches are expected to be more interactive through discovery, discussion and analysis based learning which means that classrooms and other school facilities will have to be modernised with contemporary teaching aids, installation of smart classroom equipment, etc.

Budget 2020 will need to be cognisant of the expected upgradation in infrastructure, and facilities of the public schools across the country for implementing NEP 2019. Large-scale investments are expected to align classroom and institution’s facilities with the proposed introduction of modern pedagogy and teaching methods. The other area requiring significant budget allocation would be training of teachers to use new age teaching aids and tools. This includes setting up smart classrooms in schools along with adopting conceptual learning methods. The introduction of foundational learning as part of early childhood care and education by setting up pre-schools across the country is expected to require substantial resources. This involves setting up new premises or adding facilities to existing school premises along with capacity building of the teachers and anganwadi workers who are expected to take up this role in rural areas.

In higher education, better performing public institutes are expected to become research-oriented and move towards multi-disciplinary offerings in line with eminent institutes globally. NEP 2019 envisages higher education institutes be categorised as “research oriented" or “teaching oriented" to highlight their focus and the faculty & student population set they will want to cater to. Significant investments are expected in modernising and upgrading infrastructure and facilities of public higher education institutes across the country. It is imperative that the higher education system is thoroughly revamped so that students receive quality and contemporary education and are ready to join the workforce of the future. This is likely to facilitate in India leveraging and benefiting from its demographic dividend in terms of its youth population.

Higher Education Financing Agency, established as the nodal body for financing modernisation of higher education institution through loans, may require additional budgetary allocation to augment its funds to cater to the increased financing needs from public higher education institutes across the country. Additionally, funding mechanisms and funds may need to be made available as grants for public institutions who may not be able to qualify for loan financing.

Transforming the education system is expected to improve the quality of learning outcomes for India’s youth and make them ready for the workplace of the future. Requisite investments in the education system is the need of the hour for India’s continued recognition as the talent pool for the world. NEP 2019 provides the path for making the Indian education system comparable to that in developed countries and facilitating our youth to compete with global talent. Budget 2020 needs to consider focussing on availability of resources for effective implementation of the transformative changes across the education system. To meet this envisaged expenditure, the annual budgetary allocation for education sector will need to be increased from the current levels of around three percent of GDP.

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