BUDGET AND EDUCATION

When the Hon’ble Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, rose to present the Union Budget on 29th February 2016, there was a sense of cautious optimism that he would bring some urgency to improve the Education and Skilling sector in India.

Has he focused on this area? Has he done enough to solve the issue of access and quality? Will his Budget proposals bring about a positive momentum?

The Budget proposals for Education & Skilling are stated below.

  • The Finance Minister has proposed to bring focus on quality in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and also proposed the opening of 62 new Navodaya Vidyalayas.
  • A new agency – HEFA (Higher Education Financing Agency) – will be formed with a seed capital of Rs. 1,000 crores. This agency will focus on improvement of infrastructure in the Higher Education sector and will raise funds through the CSR route and other sources.
  • One of the long-felt aspirations of the industry is to see some of our Indian Higher educational institutions feature in the top 100 of the world. None of the Indian universities or institutions figure in the prestigious Times lists of top 100 Universities in the world or any other global list. The present government has shown a desire to change this, which has been supported in the Budget. A regulatory architecture will soon be provided to ten public to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions.
  • To bring about standardization, a National Board for Skill Development Certification will be set up in partnership with the industry and academia. This is part of the Government’s impetus on skill initiatives, following the steps taken in the previous year (National Skills Mission, setting up of Sector Skill Councils etc.) and will be helpful for vocational institutes seeking funds / growth opportunities.
  • It has also been proposed to have courses on Entrepreneurship education and training through massive open online courses.
  • In a major move, which is likely to become a huge gamechanger, the government has proposed a Digital depository for school leaving certificates, college degrees, academic awards and mark sheets. This is part of the government’s steps towards digitization, and will become a one-stop place for all education related ecertificates. It will also help employers in the process of verification. This move is similar to the move made many years ago of shifting share certificates from the physical format to the digital format. It has eliminated all the earlier ills of fake share certificates. When the Depository for education certificates is operational, it will solve many problems – the most important being that of fake certificates.
  • Allocations have been increased substantially.

 

Key Announcements Planned Outlay (2016 – 17) Planned Outlay (2015 – 16)
Higher Education Financing Agency Rs. 1,000 crs Nil
Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Rs. 1,804 crs Rs. 1,500 crs
- Allocation under PM’s Kaushal Vikas Yojana Rs. 1,700 crs Nil
Plan allocation to HRD ministry (14% growth YoY) Rs 20,158 crs Rs 17,672 crs
- Dept of School Education Rs 4,913 crs Rs. 2,972 crs
- Dept of Higher Education Rs 15,245 crs Rs. 14,700 crs

 

The proposals in the Budget augur well for the Education and Skilling sector. There have been increased allocations across all segments. And the true game changer is the proposal for a Depository.

Given the Budgetary constraints, the Finance Minister has displayed the importance he accords to this sector and hopefully, it will give the right momentum to this sector in the long-term.

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