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What the Budget holds for Higher education and expert comments

While announcing his budget 2018 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced various benefits for students and education sector in India. The finance minister proposed to launch ‘‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’’ with a total investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in next four years. This will aim at step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions. This is in line with imparting quality education to the students in the country.

The Union Budget 2018 further mentioned that the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding the RISE initiative.

To enhance education of the tribal children, the Finance Minister proposed that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School on the lines of Navodaya School.

The Budget 2018 made it clear that the government will initiate an integrated B.Ed. programme for teachers. Training of teachers during service is extremely critical. The government has amended the Right to Education Act to enable more than 13 lakh untrained teachers to get trained.

The Finance Minister also proposed significant investments in the higher education. The government would launch the ‘‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)’’ Scheme this year. The scheme would identify 1,000 best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions and provide them facilities to do Ph.D in IITs and IISc, with a handsome fellowship.

The Union Budget 2018 also proposes to set up 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals by upgrading district hospitals in the country.

The students also expected the Budget 2018 to extend the tax exemption available on interest of education loan to the principal repayment. However this expectation was not fulfilled.

Intitiatives such as Ease of Doing Business and boost to SME along with other initiatives of the government should create more employment opportunities for the graduating students.
Source: MoneyControl

BUDGET QUOTE BY SIDDHARTH CHATURVEDI, DIRECTOR, AISECT (On Education Sector):

“The budget 2018-19 is a pro-Bharat budget, if we can call it that, which has a lot to offer to the population living in rural areas and individuals and enterprises working in the Agricultural space. Initiatives such as Operation Greens, Agricultural Market Fund, Enhancement of Credit flow towards creation of rural infrastructure, doubling of allocation towards food processing sector, revival of National Bamboo Mission all point towards the Govt.’s focus on revitalizing the rural economy and creating livelihoods and direct and indirect employment as a result. The focus on increasing Credit flow under Mudra scheme also points towards promoting entrepreneurship at the Micro level, again aimed at promoting livelihood creation.

The Govt.’s focus on continuing with the Model Center scheme under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is again a welcome move. So is the focus on promoting the National Apprenticeship Scheme in the MSME segment, aimed at providing apprenticeship based training and employment to 50 lac youth by 2020.  On the other hands more funds are required under the schemes of SANKALP and STRIVE, which were announced by the Govt. previously and the budget was silent on that aspect. The issue of GST applicability on the skill development sector is still a matter up for reconsideration.

On the higher education front, focus on research with the announcement of 1000 Research Fellows Scheme, aimed at bright B.Tech. students is a welcome move and will promote research as a credible career option amongst engineering students. 

However, the budget was silent on modalities of HEFA or Higher Education Financing Agency, which was announced in the last budget, meant to provide the much needed capital for building up of further quality higher education infrastructure, which was expected from the budget”.

BUDGET QUOTE BY PALLAVI RAO CHATURVEDI, DIRECTOR, AISECT (On Education Sector)

“For the education sector, it was heartening to see that the Govt. is talking about the key elements required for improvement of learning outcomes. First of all, it was high time that Teacher Training was realised as the topmost priority and the Govt.’s move of introducing an integrated B.Ed. program is a welcome move. Again, the Govt.’s vision of moving towards leveraging more of digital technology to improve the education system is a step in the right direction. Introduction of RISE – Revitalization of Infrastructure in Secondary Education was a much-needed boost required for improving the infrastructure in the school education system. The FM also realised the fact that although we have overcome the basic challenge of getting the students into the classrooms, but learning outcomes still remain poor. So improving the overall quality of our education system seems to be a continuing priority of the Govt. and we should applaud that. The FM also noted that there was a need to view the education system “holistically”, rather than pre-primary, primary, secondary compartments of education.

However, India is still far from the ideal situation of allocation of 6% of GDP towards Education and that remains a cause for concern. I hope the Govt. is conscious of this fact and takes the steps in the right direction to alleviate this situation.”

 

Date: Feb 2, 2018

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