Union Budget 2018-19: Children, Education continue to remain unregistered as national priorities

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who presented his fifth consecutive union budget on February 1, once again failed to prioritize education and children. In fact, the whole discourse around these two vital sectors is suffering from a lack of vision. Children who constitute more than 40% of country’s population continue to face neglect as their budgetary share in absolute terms is down in non-education provisions such as health and nutrition. 50% of children in the country don’t have access to ORS even as diarrhea is the biggest killer among children. For the last 15 years, allocation to the child budget has been around 3% of the union budget. CRY’s CEO Puja Marwaha said, “The budget shows a minimalist approach towards children’s rights. We cannot resolve large scale problems that affect upto 70% of India’s children unless the country’s policy makers stand up for what is right for India’s children.”

In view of Rajye Sabha MP, Ravi Prakash Verma, one of the pioneering Right to Education voices in India, for at least 5-10 years, India need to have a focus on her children. “Today’s youth are restless. Children are subjected to abuse every second and don’t expect them to have a normal behavior if they don’t have a value system that will inculcate in them the capacity to behave and deal with various situations,” he adds.  Another MP, D Raja of CPI, who has been a teacher himself in his early career, feels provisions such as running water in toilets and sanitary napkins for girl students must be a thrust area if girl children are to be supported in real sense.

In its budget analysis the budget analysis think tank, CBGA finds the allocation for National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education has decreased from Rs. 320 crore in 2017-18 (BE) to Rs. 256 crore in 2018-19 (BE). With all its hype, against an allocation of Rs. 100 crore in 2016-17 (BE) under ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’, only Rs. 29 crore has been utilised.

A highlight of the education budget include holistic development of education from pre-nursery to Class XII by removing segmentation, which means merger of SSA and RMSA in a sense. Done without extension of RTE Act for universalization of the crucial secondary education, the government has demonstrated lack of seriousness towards education and the merger is fraught with the risk of administrative ‘policy paralysis’ in school education segment. According to Prof Praveen Jha, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, this government is repeatedly complete lack of seriousness for which he was feeling utterly depressed. “In the name of education, there is no attempt to engage with the issue without any degree of seriousness,” he said while slamming Niti Ayog as the worst institution in post-independent India as according to him its work has no fact or logic and unless there is evidence, “how can you make a roadmap?” According to him resource mobilization has been globally produced outcomes though Niti Ayog thinks differently.

“Through this tokenism, we’ll continue to have sub-standard, sub-optimal cheap labor production because of the continuous neglect of the larger society and we are forgetting the citizenship is shared and we are laying its foundations with education,” he said while addressing a seminar organized by RTE Forum in New Delhi post budget presentation.

Teachers again fail to find the emphasis in this year’s budget. According to Kiran Bhatty,  Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, while teacher training has been emphasised, the budget for the Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission for Teachers and Training has remained stagnant at Rs 120 crores allocated last year (RE Rs 100 crores). There is, however, an increase in budgetary support for strengthening teacher training institutes of Rs 70 crores but that appears to have come at the cost of appointment of language teachers amounting to Rs 40 crores (item 20 on p188). This does not bode well for the huge shortage of teachers in general but especially in tribal areas, which has otherwise been mentioned as a focus area.

   According to CBGA, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has been allocated Rs. 85,010 crore in 2018-19 (BE), a seven percent increase from the previous year’s allocation (Though the education budget has increased in absolute terms, its share in total government expenditure is continuously decreasing. A similar picture is observed when the education budget is compared with the country’s GDP (Figure 6.2). This reduced priority is also highlighted in Economic Survey 2017-18. The survey said “of the 6.6 percent of GDP on social sector, 2.7 percent goes to education in 2017-18, down from 3.1 percent in 2013-14”. Though it has attributed this reduction to limited fiscal space to increase expenditure on critical social infrastructure, a state-level analysis by CBGA shows that during the first four years of the Fourteenth Finance Commission period (which ends in 2019-20) states have actually increased their expenditure on the social sector including education.

In the five years of the NDA government, more than 60 percent of the RTE and MDM budget has been financed through cess. While the collection of cess began as a measure to inject additional amounts to supplement the government’s own support, it grew to be more of a substitute.

The budget also announced the government’s plan to launch a major initiative named “Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022” with a total investment of Rs.100,000 crore in the next four years to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions. The allocation under Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) has increased from Rs. 250 crore to Rs. 2,750 crore.  According to CBGA, this clearly shows public investment in higher education has been way lower than required. If the government continues to withdraw its resources for higher education, it would give a further boost to privatisation of the sector.

  1. Some other highlights of education budget include an Ekalavya Model Residential School will be set up in every block with more than 50% Schedule Tribe (ST) population and at least 20,000 tribal persons by 2022 to provide quality education to tribal children.
  2.  Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) scheme to be launched covering the 1,000 best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions and providing them facilities to pursue Ph.D in IITs and IISc with a “handsome fellowship”.
  3. Arun Jaitley also allocated Rs. 1 trillion to a new scheme called Revitalizing Infrastructure in School Education or RISE to integrate its school education sector—from pre-school to class 12—implying merger of several school schemes in the near future to revitalize the infrastructure of schools in the country.
  4. The new Prime Minister’s scheme to identify bright students pursuing B.Tech in premier engineering institutes, and providing them higher-education opportunities in IITs and IISc Bangalore will give the desired impetus to research and development in India.
  5. Plans to set up two new full-fledged schools of planning and architecture, 18 new schools of planning and architecture in the IITs and NITs and investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore in four years for higher educational premier institutes are a shot in the arm for the sector and will further the Government’s agenda of education for all.

” Budget Reactions on Education/skills sector” 

 

Uniion Finance Minister and his team

We whole-heartedly welcome the Government’s plan and focus to move classroom black boards to digital boards. This will help immensely in standardizing and ensuring teaching content and quality and increasing outreach particularly in rural areas where there are impediments such as teacher availability and teaching materials.

Embracing technology is progressive with a proposed National Programme to direct efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence towards national development focused on research & development and its applications

We also welcome the emphasis to be given to training of untrained teachers and allocation of 1 lakh crore for education research.Its also very commendable about the plans if coming up with 24 new Medical colleges. Also, praise-worthy is the plan of at least one medical college every three constituencies. However, government further increased the education cess by 1 percent which will be a blow to the middle class.

Association of Publishers in India (API) 

 The proposal to open 18 new schools of planning and architecture in order to to generate skilled designers and architects will create the necessary impetus and awareness towards the importance of design in every aspect of education be it urban planning, architecture, management or engineering is welcome.

Prof. (Dr.) Sanjay Gupta, Director General, World University of Design (WUD) 

I was also looking for specific incentives to enhance private and philanthropic participation and industry-academia collaboration in the sector, given that India spends only 0.7% of its GDP on research. A strong governmental push in the form of an innovation policy will help. The ‘PM research fellows’ need not be restricted to only elite public-funded institutions — one needs to create an entire ecosystem of excellence in the country, and not just a few islands of merit.

 Dr. Rupamanjari Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University 

The fact that the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative is a much appreciated provision.

Increase in digital intensity in education and envisaging move from ‘‘black board’’ to ‘‘digital board’’; using technology to upgrade the skills of teachers through a digital portal “Diksha”; national program on artificial intelligence under the aegis of Niti Aayog; mission on Cyber Physical Systems and a test bed for 5G technology at IIT Chennai were among the other encouraging initiatives.

Vijay Thadani, VC and MD, NIIT Ltd 

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, quantum communication etc. are going to drive future jobs and hence a national programme catering to these disciplines is a welcome initiative. District Wise Strategy to improve the quality of education and achieving standard learning outcomes based on the results of the National Achievement Survey, for me, is a path-breaking announcement, made for the first time.

Utpal Ghosh, CEO & President, UPES – Dehradun   

We are very happy to see the continued focus on research and development in the education sector. We at SRM are committed to creating an innovation and R&D focused institution and we believe that we are completely in sync with the aspirations of the Government in reaping rich demographic dividend and this is possible through high quality education. The focus on creating a corpus of the best brains of the country and getting top 1,000 B.Tech students from the top institutions to work for research is a healthy way forward.

Dr. P. Sathyanarayanan, President of SRM University 

We believe that the announcement of Rs 1 lakh crore to revitalise and upgrade education system will be a game changer towards increasing the digital penetration in education which will shift the country from a manufacturing base to a research base.

Dr. Prashant Bhalla, President Manav Rachna Educational Institutions 

The Budget 2018 has highlighted technology as a key driver in the education sector. The efforts by the government will give impetus to tech-based educational reforms and further boost digital learning and MOOCs to reach out to more students and thereby provide access to quality education.

A focused step to leverage research in new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and launch of PM’s Research Fellow Scheme will encourage industry-relevant research. This will aid in preparing students to compete at a global level and also, to face challenges posed by new technology.  Leading B-Schools in India have already taken the cue of increasing digitization and have introduced programs based on Business Analytics and Machine Learning.

The Indian government has rightly taken note of refining the quality of education and will look at improvising education infrastructure in the coming years. It is important for stakeholders in higher education to enable students to adapt to innovation taking place in this era of digital transformation in the job eco-system.

Emphasis on initiatives such as Digital India, Start-Up India and Make In India to truly reap the benefits of our dynamic nation. The focus on enhancing the quality of education will usher in the new India that we aspire.

Prof. Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, S.P. Mandali’s Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (WeSchool)

The main budget highlight is the focus on vocational training for youth for  the tourism and textile sector   Another scheme which is new is the Access to SWAYAM education portal online, which will be introduced with 350 online courses All  these initiatives are an extension of the last budget which showed its intent on providing skill based education

At the Higher education level the significant statement is to provide greater administrative and academic autonomy to good quality institutions  These  will be identified based on accreditation and ranking provided by NIRF framework   This is also pertinent in the context of the  much talked about Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) Bill that promises to grant autonomy

Prof. D K Batra, Marketing, IMI-New Delhi 

The allocation of 1 lac crore for the development of education infrastructure ties in well with the intent to augment digitization and the ‘shift from blackboard to digital board’, which is consistent with the Digital India mission, and will resonate with India’s young demographic. The focus on teacher training continues from last year’s budget announcement and it exemplifies the renewed focus on this noble profession given that teachers are the principle pivot in the learning eco-system.

 Sivaramakrishnan V, Managing Director – Oxford University Press India 

The Union Budget 2018–19 looks promising for the education sector.

Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO and Co-founder, Next Education  

Digital education is the only way to revamp our education system to provide quality education to every child in a vast country like ours. It’s a high time to leverage digital infrastructure to connecting students in Rural Areas with Teachers/Mentors from Urban Areas.

Naresh Challagulla Founder/CEO of StudyMonitor (Subsidiary of YITSOL group) 

The government acknowledging the requirement to train people on new technologies like Blockchain, Robotics and Artificial intelligence was very encouraging. This will encourage professionals to develop specific skillsets leading to a better up-skilled workforce. With this positive step for the sector, we expect a better and future ready India.

Nikhil Barshikar, MD, Imarticus Learning

While teacher training is explicitly mentioned in the FM’s speech, training on leveraging technology in education across the board has not been defined and this will be critical to see the impact of digitisation of education.

Prateek Bhargava, CEO, Mindler

 The 2018 Budget looks very promising for the education sector. The Government’s plan to leverage technology in the education sector is a big leap forward. Their allocation of Rs. 1 lakh crore for research in the field of education is also a much-needed step.

Rohit Mann, Director, Lancers International School, Gurgaon 

The reskilling of teachers through the portal Diksha will not only improve the quality of education but will be a gamechanger for the entire education ecosystem.

Rohit Manglik,CEO, EduGorilla(an edtech startup)

The decision to treat education holistically without any segmentation is a welcome move and will lend greater synergy in planning and execution of important schemes and programmes. This is also expected to help smoothen the process of mapping learning outcomes with curriculum across all levels. It is also heartening to see a greater emphasis on the all-important area of teacher training which will help in achieving the target of training all teachers by 2019. With focus on increasing digital intensity in education, the budget is quite futuristic as it looks to address the needs of today’s India emerging as a powerful knowledge economy.

Ratnesh Jha, Managing Director, Cambridge University Press, South Asia 

Education is critical to the future of India and any relaxations in taxes on education and technology would have been an added benefit. Recognising the importance of teacher training is another significant step to boost quality education in the country. We eagerly await the details and plan of action from the government following the announcements.

Zishaan Hayath, CEO & Co-founder, Toppr.com

I think the steps taken with regard to education are more technocratic than path-breaking, something that I had come to expect from this government. Nevertheless, I am glad that they realize the importance of supporting education as a sector. This is the only way that India can hope to become the leader among nations, which it has long aspired to be. The challenge would lie in implementing these initiatives effectively in order for these to deliver.

Kuldeep Surolia, Director Sorsfort School, Bangalore and Sadvidya proponent 

 I support the recommendation of treating education holistically without any segmentation and division of class from primary and above. And mentioning to focus on integrated B.Ed program soon will surely help to shape our future minds. 

 Pradeep Jolly, Founder of Early Learning Village School and Wonderland School

As announced, specifically for the education sector, having an integrated B.Ed. program, with teacher-training as its main focus, will boost the workforce towards being more aware and skilled.

 Vandana Arora, Principal of Nahar International School, Mumbai 

There is a great disparity in terms of education infrastructure and systems in private schools and state-run schools and a scheme like RISE scheme (Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education)  shall be instrumental in bridging the gap.  We at BCTA welcome this move for we firmly believe that pedagogy should be an ever-evolving phenomenon and we are more than happy that the Government is investing a sizable amount in it.

Sumeet Nath, Secretary & Treasurer, Baptist Church Trust Association (BCTA)

Announcement of setting-up 24 new medical colleges across the country will open up more seats for medical graduates.  Besides, upgrading many existing medical colleges is also an excellent move by the government. The  improvement of standards and establishment of new medical institutes will not only help the aspiring medical students with more options, it will also help in increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio.

With the need to reach out to every household of old, widows, orphaned children, divyaang and deprived as defined by the Socio-Economic Caste Census, the implementation of a comprehensive social security and protection programme and the allocation of 9, 975 crore has been announced for the National Social Assistance.  This is a welcome move for building social security for public at large and also help the education programs in rural areas

Aakash Chaudhary, Director Aakash Institute 

“The Government in the budget has clearly acknowledged the need to improve the quality and scale of education across the country, through a continued digital push.   Overall, it is a well thought through budget with the needed focus for the Education sector.”

Venguswamy Ramaswamy, Global Head, TCS iON 

The launch of Sankalp to skill youth and increase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras will give major impetus and thrust to the skill development movement in India. The initiative to establish India International Skill Centres to offer advanced training and courses in foreign languages will not only help our skilled manpower to seek job opportunities outside our country but also make these skilling programs aspirational.

In my opinion, for the most part, the Finance Minister has presented us with a conducive environment by creating policies that would lead to skill development and employment generation. The announcement of creation of 70 lakh job opportunities will contribute positively towards building a robust economy.  Job creation will mean getting skilled manpower for those jobs which is a good sign for the skilling industry.

One of the area which we were looking forward was GST exemption on all skill development programs. But looking at various other announcements supporting the skill development arena , I would like to congratulate the Finance Minister for a very forward looking budget.

Sanjay Bahl, CEO and MD, Centum Learning

While there was anticipation about a new employment policy, there was no indication of a formal policy being announced anytime soon. However, it is heartening to hear that there have been 70 lakh formal jobs created in the past year and that the government plans to spur job creation in the country through various incentives and reforms that were announced, such as the EPF contribution. Additionally, the EPF reprieve for women employees will improve the female participation rate in the Indian workforce. It is particularly gratifying to see that the government is also taking steps to tackle the issue of talent gap due to a lack of adequate skilling. Given the thrust on reforming the education system, it is safe to say that we will be seeing a much more equipped potential workforce. In addition to improving employability, the need of the hour is to modernize the Indian hiring industry through a more advanced platform that caters to the evolving requirements of job seekers in the 21st century.

Sashi Kumar, Managing Director, Indeed India 

The budget announcements made have little to offer for higher education in the country. Whereas the finance minister offered several initiatives for the school education which involves transforming classrooms to digital classrooms, setting up of the Eklavya Schools for the tribal population and enhancing the scope of teacher’s training to bring in quality into the school education, he had nothing special to offer to the higher education sector.

Setting up of the long pending Railway University and the new Schools of Planning and Architecture seems like a lopsided approach to a select sector within higher education. The finance minister has made no provisions for creation of infrastructure in the higher education space that could have led to higher GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio). The Finance Minister spoke about technology being the biggest driver for enhancing the quality of education in the country. However, we could not find any incentive to the Ed-Tech companies working in this space to help institutions implement and use technology for bringing in Total Quality Education. We are also grossly disappointed by Higher Education Services not being exempted out of the provisions of GST that could have provided a fillip to the sector.

Shantanu Rooj, Founder & CEO, Schoolguru

The right use of investment in the Indian education sector will provide an impetus to create an environment where learning is seamless for students irrespective of their learning proficiencies or geographical locations. Additionally, the focus to upgrade teaching skills will also play a vital role in the way young India learns. This will ensure and encourage students to love what they learn. Overall, if the planned investment is done in the right way, it will be a huge boost for the economy ,as it will create a the right set of talented workforce for India. And also, for most Indians, education is still the only way to make it big in life.” 

Byju Raveendran, Founder & CEO, BYJU’S