When the Finance Minister rose to present the Budget in the Parliament on 28th February, 2015, there were a lot of expectations from all sections of industry, including the education and skilling sector.
This was the first full Budget of the new government, under the backdrop of a strong GDP growth of 7.5 per cent and precipitous drop in oil prices. The Indian economy is truly in a “sweet spot” and if the fiscal deficit is handled well, it is now “ready to fly”.
There is strong push in the Budget on the infrastructure, social sectors and education and skilling. The Finance Minister has underlined the need to a strong push on public investment, due to the weak private investment in infrastructure via the PPP model. This is a modulation from the earlier policies where the thrust was exactly the opposite – public money was not available for huge investment required in infrastructure and hence, private investment had to step in.
There are a slew of announcements on increasing the social security net – increase in allocation to MNREGA, accidental death insurance of Rs. 2 lakhs for an annual premium of Rs. 12 and many more schemes – all designed to provide social security to the under-privileged.
The focus of the government on Education and Skilling continues in this Budget.
In the first few paras of the Budget, The Finance Minister has referred to the fact that 2022 is a historic year for India, being the 75th year of India’s independence and one of the stated items in the vision for 2022 is “Educating and skilling our youth to enable them to get employment is the altar before which we must all bow”. To achieve this, the stated goal is to have a senior secondary school within 5 kms of each child, upgrade 80,000 secondary schools and add or upgrade 75,000 junior/ middle schools to senior secondary level. The Finance Minister has also envisioned the need to improve quality and learning outcomes of education.
Skilling initiatives of the government which are presently dispersed across various Ministries will be consolidated under the National Skills Mission through the Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Ministry. This Mission will also standardize procedures and outcomes across 31 Sector Skill Councils. A new scheme (Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojana) has been announced to enhance employability of rural youth. Rs. 1,500 crores has been set apart in this budget for this scheme and, interestingly, disbursements will be made through a digital voucher directly into the qualified student’s bank account.
Availability of finance to students wanting to pursue Higher Education has never been easy in India. This Budget has made a bold announcement and hopefully, it ensures that no student is unable to pursue Higher Education due to lack of finance. A fully IT based Student Financial Aid Authority will be set up to administer and monitor scholarships as well as loans through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram. Other than that, many new educational institutes (AIIMS, IIT, etc.) have been announced to be set up across India.
If the Finance Minister is able to implement a financial aid scheme for Higher Education, it will be the biggest game-changer for Higher Education!

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  1. Karthika says:

    There is no dearth of plan and policies for improving education in India. Budget outlay too has been seeing an upward trend year after year. What is lacking is the intent on implementing these initiatives. Year after year, aspirations and dreams of lakhs of student are martyred on the altar on “government policies” when a bright student fails to secure admission in a college of his choice or in a course of his liking. Not to mention, those belonging to the “not so privileged” group. Educational policies are turning out to be a toy in the hands of those ruling the land. What they don’t realize is that they are playing with the future of the nation.

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