Budget 2021 Sets The Target: Reaching The Under-reached
The budget 2021 promises to be an employment-generating budget backed by Skill India Programme as well as indicate a direction to promote academic collaborations with foreign higher education institutions and associating with international vocational models to extend our boundaries.
There is a significant allocation in every budget which lays impetus on quality education across the country and reaching out to those who are deprived of it. There have been various initiatives like Right to Education, Samagra Shiksha, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, etc which were taken in the past budgets with an aim to provide the education to the last mile. However, the desired results have been underachieved owing to several factors.
The Budget 2021, with a challenge to mitigate the loss due to the pandemic, came with a new hope for the education sector. Despite the less allocation as compared to last year, it has rolled out a clear path towards inclusive quality education available to all. It clearly aims at reaching the under-reached.
There has been a great divide between metro cities and rural/ semi urban areas in terms of quality and accessibility of education. The divide has only widened due to massive urbanization and migration of workforce towards metro and tier 1 cities. This year’s budget has brought a structural change in the approach of the government. The focus has been on spreading the education web and improving the quality and accessibility of education to the bottom of the pyramid.
There is a positive message for the education sector in this Budget as it enables active effect to the new National Education Policy by setting up a strong framework for the Higher Education Commission. Along with this, it also encourages Public-Private Partnership for setting up schools in the tribal areas which will help in providing education to the last mile. The Budget also lays out the way forward to phased implementation of National Education Policy starting with 15,000 schools.
By supporting 15,000 schools via NGO’s and other organizations, the government aims at the ambitious target of increasing the number of schools as well as students to cater the needs of all and also looks forward to revamping the education management. Here the aim is to provide education to one and all irrespective of the location or any financial constraints.
Setting up Sainik Schools and Eklavya schools with a focus to enhance equality in education coupled with the extended support for primary education and tribal areas as well as underprivileged falls in tune with NEP 2020. The proposal to set up a university in Leh is really heartening as the need of the hour is to shift the focus from metro cities in order to improve access to higher education in the remote parts of the country also. If this could be coupled up by incentivizing the faculty members who go and teach in such areas can benefit the higher education to a lot of extent.
Another reform in higher education will pave a long way is the setting up of the Higher Education Council, as an umbrella body. Since this will be responsible for accreditation and regular funding of higher education institutions by creating better synergy between them across the country.
The Budget also addresses the key areas of research and development along with skilling as the FM proposed an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore for the National Research Foundation (NRF) over five years and Rs 3,000 crore for skilling and apprenticeship for students. The outlay for the NRF will boost the quality and quantity of research in India. This will also provide a big push towards innovation in the education sector. This also gives a ray of hope to the education sector that research funding both from HEC and NRF will be made available as a level playing field between public and private higher educational institutions. The budget 2021 promises to be an employment-generating budget backed by Skill India Programme as well as indicate a direction to promote academic collaborations with foreign higher education institutions and associating with international vocational models to extend our boundaries.
Overall, the budget shows the government’s commitment towards developing a robust education ecosystem that is in harmony with sustainable development and a self-reliant India.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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