Education Sector Pre-budget Expectations

With Union Budget 2021-22 around the corner, here is what various stakeholders from the Education industry look forward to.

Prof Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director, IIM Sambalpur

“Budget 2021, in many ways will be a landmark owing to the despondency the country waded through during the last financial year. It can lay the potential foundation for a long-term fiscal growth path to achieve the dream of transforming India into a robust economy. This is a year to reboot and reorganise the economy which has run a rough patch because of the pandemic. COVID-19 has thrown at mankind innumerable challenges which will take years to recover from, but the budget can marshal a positive start from the negative impact and help bolster growth and bring back prosperity."

"So, Budget 2021-22, has immense expectations from India Inc who will keep a keen eye on a demand push from the Government, along with an increased outlay for infrastructure and social sector projects, doubly increasing the revenue expenditure, boosting consumption-led demand. The Budget must prioritise growth-oriented measures over fiscal considerations. It must focus on employment generation and on putting more money in the hands of consumers – the twin engines that will boost demand and drive growth. Government has to look at allotting of funds for COVID vaccination across the country, increase expenditure on healthcare services, strengthening the manufacturing ecosystem, promoting research and development, and incentivising futuristic technologies and also advocate for income support for those in the bottom of the pyramid, who have lost their jobs and source of steady income. Budget should create an environment that makes the domestic sector competitive and put more focus on the execution of infrastructure projects. It must create an amiable environment to re-build on recent reforms in labour and education besides continuing to provide policy as well as financial support for skilling to ensure that the workforce in India is future-ready."

Ashwani Awasthi, Managing Director, RICS School of Built Environment 

"The Government of India has announced transformational changes in the education sector while launching the National Education Policy (NEP2020) last year. While NEP 2020 focuses on raising the quality of education however upgradation of infrastructure of public higher education and professional institutions is key to achieving the desired outcomes. Also, the last one year introducing significant usage of digital infrastructure in education, the investment in digital infrastructure also needs to be enhanced. This means that the government needs to make a 12% to 15% higher budgetary allocation than that has been done in the current year."

Prof (Dr) Sanjiv Marwah, Director, JK Business School

 “We anticipate that Union Budget 2021 will bring in revolutionary changes to the education sector. The New Education Policy (NEP-2020) brought aggressive changes in the Higher Education System of our country - provided flexibility in the learning curve, emphasized on conceptual understanding and blended learning. Similarly, the upcoming FY budget must promote the perfect amalgamation of digital and traditional education and strive to encourage the adoption of emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things as well as promoting Research & Development. Along with it, another key aspect that we are looking forward to in the Union Budget 2021 is financial support that can be provided to private sector institutions, including low-cost and zero-cost loans, which is done in many countries. We request the Govt. to consider ‘National Education Bank’ as a concept, just like the ‘National Housing Bank,’ such that education loans too can be provided at the lowest possible interest rate.”

Dr Jitin Chadha, Founder & Director, Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF) 

"The Union Budget for 2021-2022 is a much-awaited one as it will be the first since the New Education Policy was introduced last year. One naturally expects. a substantial increase in the allocation to education, and I hope the allocation goes up for higher education in particular, in order to cater to India's ever-growing need for quality human capital, especially if it is to become 'Atmanirbhar'. To this end, while spending to set up high-quality institutions for the long term, I hope earnestly that the Budget makes long-due allocations for internationalizing Indian higher education because that is our best short-run bet for improving the quality of the workforce and bringing it to global standards for the post-pandemic world."

Prof Manoj K Arora, Vice-Chancellor, BML Munjal University

"The new National Education Policy is an ambitious one and focuses on improving the quality of higher education at all levels, increased use of technology in education, equity in education, teacher education, and cultivating research for the social good. However, government expenditure on education is too meagre. The current public expenditure on education in India has been around 4.4% of GDP. This needs to be significantly increased to 6-7% of GDP with a combined contribution of Centre and State governments. Similarly, if we want to give due importance to research, the research and innovation investment, which currently stands at about 0.7% of GDP as compared to 4.3% of GDP in a small country like Israel, needs also to be enhanced to at least 2% of GDP. In Covid times, we have seen the importance of indigenous research in different sectors, be it Agriculture, Healthcare, IT and Manufacturing sectors. This will indeed give a boost to the proposal on creation of the National Science Foundation, as envisaged in the National Education Policy. The NSF will act as a robust and efficient support system to facilitate research in higher education institutions, and is being eagerly awaited".  

Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India 

“The education sector in India is at the cusp of a deeper transformational shift to realize and utilize young India’s capabilities. The foundation and vision set by the government, through NEP 2020 will be vital in achieving the objectives of an effective and inclusive education system. The Union budget 2021 should give guidelines on the ‘NEP implementation plan’ and further strengthen the focus and investment in Edu-tech to enhance experiential and immersive learning and reinforce the skill development process at par with the global education standards. The year 2021 will be significant as Indian schools step up their preparations to participate in the PISA test in 2022. India will be part of the assessment for the second time after 2009, where it ranked 72 out of 73 countries. The improvement in ranking will help boost India's confidence amongst OECD members and help us showcase our goal to achieve an effective and inclusive education system."

Aakash Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) 

“National Education Policy (NEP 2020) has already set the pace for enormous skill development for the youth. We are expecting that the Government will increase the education expenditure in the current education budget. With more focus on the implementation of the new policy, quality and tax-free education and skill development, the reforms will pave ways for more blue-collar jobs. Classroom education has undergone complete change due to emergence of COVID, we expect that Government will put more focus on the usage of digital education in Tier 2,3 cities and envisage avenues to make India as one of the preferred higher education destinations in the world.”

Achin Bhattacharyya, CEO & Founder, Notebook

"This year's budget will require some real delicate balancing act, with so many issues and consequential need gaps across sectors and education is no exception. For all stakeholders in the Education sector, this has indeed been a critical year, with schools closed for months now and with learning continuing via various online platforms and edtech portals. The pandemic has indeed highlighted the need for investment in technology across levels, and it's high time that this be taken up on a war footing. We need to digitally connect all schools in the country and also ensure a smooth glitch-free working of the digital infra post its implementation. Also, the creation of tech hubs, from where quality vernacular content can be disseminated is the need of the hour. The pandemic has highlighted the glaring digital divide, and it's high time that all stakeholders of the educational ecosystem join hands to address this need. Considering the role that edtech companies played during the pandemic, it will really be a prudent step if they are given the required support and impetus to grow by making capital accessible to them, facilitating various collaboration with leading universities and by reducing GST rates on online education."

Aman Mittal, Additional Director at Division of International Affairs, Lovely Professional University

“The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 sharply focuses on higher education as well and to fulfil the objectives defined by it, a large allocation of funds is needed. Funds would be required for both building the framework as well as creating the required technical infrastructure. For example, implementation of the Academic Bank of Credit."

"There are just around five hundred government universities in India. Private universities and colleges cater to a large number of students in the country. Hence, the government should allocate funds on just not opening new IITs and IIMs but also to focus on how private institutions can be supported in building world-class institutions." 

Shaheem Rahiman, CEO, Atria University

"While quality education holds the key to inclusive growth in India, the public spending on education is at about 4.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) - lower than that of most developing nations. Education in India needs to be recognized as an equalizer – as a crucial instrument that can bridge the socio-economic divide in our country. Income inequality in India stems from the enormous disparity in learning outcomes after completion of education. And, to address this gap, reallocation of resources from other sectors need to be made and re-routed towards building a level-playing field for all students. Budget 2021 needs to focus on investments towards building a robust system of accountability, checks, and balances to level-up the delivery and quality of higher education. Ensuring equal opportunities for students irrespective of caste, class, gender, and region. And eventually, eliminating the need for quota-based reservations for students in the country."  

Divya Lal, Founder and Managing Director, Fliplearn

“Pandemic times have shown like never before, the transformative power of edtech on education. For a developing nation like India, with the world’s largest youth population, leverage provided by technology, for education access and quality, has been increasingly recognised and accepted. However, the prioritisation in the union budget has not kept pace. We hope all that will change in the forthcoming budget."

"The edtech industry will need higher digital infrastructure and robust knowledge protection framework to build on the in-roads it has already made in COVID times. Education's expenditure share, which has seen some incremental increase over the years, needs to now see a substantial jump so that the opportunity for the spread of technology-led education across the length and breadth of India is not lost. As a future superpower, we need to ensure inclusiveness, enhance the standard of education - both of which edtech can ensure." 

Vinay Sharma, Head of Digital Services, S Chand and Co. 

“In 2020, Edtech sector grew at a never before pace as it broke newer grounds and permeated to tier 3 and 4 towns of India and the upcoming Union Budget 2021 can solve the forefront a key challenge – the lack of access and affordability of high-speed internet as well as laptop/smartphone devices in smaller towns and villages. Government interventions that make these possible will greatly assist a larger fraction of the population to benefit from the vast and high-quality online education resources that are now increasingly available. We also expect allocation for funds to drive this digital education as it’s a critical need at the ground level."

"While many schools have adopted digital platforms, most schools have not been able to effectively implement the same primarily due to lack of digital infrastructure. Therefore any budgetary allocation that drives funds towards these two critical elements - technology upgradation and teachers training  - will offer much needed improvement in quality outcomes as it allows schools to leverage the power of digital solutions that bring high quality, personalization and focus on measurement of outcomes.”

Amit Bansal, Founder & CEO, WizKlub

"There is a beautiful initiative in the form of NEP that would redefine the education sector on the country. Students would grow up developing future-ready skills like critical thinking, logical thinking and tech skills instead of rote memorizing content. Along with NEP, leading institutions like the World Economic Forum have also emphasized the importance of these skills for jobs in future. These skills cannot be built by just changing the curriculum or by introducing another subject. These skills require the use of Tech tools that teachers need to start using to ensure high efficacy. Schools would need support on both the technology and the processes to implement the skill-based pedagogy. We would like to see specific budget allocation for tech and process implementation of these skills across schools."

Gaurav Tyagi, Founder, Career Xpert

"The biggest challenge the healthcare sector/industry is facing currently is the shortage of skilled medical workforce. Our country needs more MBBS, MS and MD medical post-graduates and well-equipped hospitals and colleges. The government should allot funds for medical education in rural areas. The health facilities should be improved in rural areas with qualified doctors and better equipment. The special allowances should also be provided to the doctors and their paramedical staff. The health scheme for children should be launched by the government that should especially focus on paramedical courses. New courses should be started in the existing government colleges. There needs to be a system where we can focus on skilling and upgrading medical workforce skills in the needed geographies. In order to achieve this, major reforms are needed."

Manish Mohta, MD, Learning Spiral

"Fund Allocation & Efforts for Reducing the Digital Divide: Currently, 'Digital divide' is a major problem. The Digital Divide refers to the gap between those able to benefit from the internet & those who are not. Thus, the aim of “closing the digital divide” now refers to efforts to provide meaningful access to internet infrastructures, applications & online examination system solutions. The government should bridge the digital divide gap so that learning solutions can be easily accessed by everyone. The Union Budget 2021 should focus heavily on creating online infrastructure & making it available till the last mile via the use of affordable smartphones, free internet and democratic distribution of technological devices. Budget 2021 will need to be of the expected up-gradation in infrastructure. Boosting ed-tech & online examination system to provide facilities of online exams across the country."

Rohit Gajbhiye, Founder, Financepeer

“Formalizing online education should be the priority of Budget 2021-22. The stakeholders are eyeing the Budget 2021 with a lot of expectations as the government has already signalled allocation of 6% of the GDP towards education. This can be a healthy start towards strengthening the sector. Aligning with it, we expect the government to introduce a framework for formalizing the online education coupling it with exhaustive provisions for bridging the digital divide between both ends of the education value chain i.e. the Teachers and the Students."

Ankush Singla, Co-founder, Coding Ninjas

"We have witnessed a huge transformation in the education system in past one year due to the advent of the pandemic. We are optimistic and looking forward to some announcements in the education sector especially with respect to the New Education Policy with more focus for the K12 segment. We are also ready to have a collaborative approach where we as an edtech platform, can come forward and associate with the private and government institutions to scale up coding education. This will increase our contribution to the industry to provide education to more and more students across the nation. We expect to focus on skilling and STEM-based education in schools and colleges will become even more significant than before."  

Sumit Kumar, Vice President – NETAP, TeamLease

"The past two budgets have taken strategic measures towards boosting education and skilling in India, one of which was the allocation of more funds to augment the ecosystem. However much of this allocated budget still remains unutilized (close to 13% of the budget allocated in the last fiscal is unused). Given the disruption in the ecosystem in the past year due to the pandemic, the upcoming budget needs to take conducive steps to improve education and skilling in India. Firstly, we need to ensure better and optimum use of the funds which remain unused. Secondly, we need to look at creating appropriate avenues where the allocated funds can be utilized more effectively."

Dr Sunita Gandhi, Global Classroom Private Limited (GCPL) and Global Education & Training Institute (GETI)

"The previous year proved to be gamechanger for the education industry by drastically replacing traditional classrooms with online teaching methods. This along with the introduction of National Education Policy 2020 made a strong foundation for the following year. We expect the 2021 Union Budget to be open to creating an Edtech ecosystem with greater access to the internet and robust data protection. By allowing innovation in the sector and improving the basic digital infrastructure of the country, the government can ensure that our education system is immune to any pandemic in the future."

Dev Roy, Founder, Digital Aristotle

"The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting impact on all sectors, including education. The sector is in the need of revival and the Union Budget can give it the desired push. The government’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 fulfills some of the most anticipated expectations of the education system in the country. For instance, it narrows down the gap between academics and extra-curricular or vocational trainings. The focus on the concept and creative thinking is most welcome. What the policy needs to do now is bring transparency with regard to the expenditures in the domain. Our prime expectation from the upcoming budget is that each rupee spent should benefit as many children as possible."

Shashank Udupa, Co-founder and CFO, Avalon Meta

"Budget 2021 is going to be quite exciting to watch this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the GoI has spent a lot of money in reviving the economy by providing different reliefs over time, which it must somehow recover. At the same time, the common man also expects some relief from the budget such as Tax cuts, increase in deduction limits from 80C, decreased interest rates on loans or say a continued moratorium on existing loan payments. Also, a lot of retail investors are hoping for the Long Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCG) to be abolished which would provide a lot of relief to existing retail investors as the government currently charges both LTCG and Securities Transaction Tax (STT). With Sensex close to a historic high of 50,000 levels, a favourable 2021 Budget will push the market to new highs and vice versa."

Sameer Nigam, CEO & Co-founder, Stratbeans

“The Union Budget for FY 22 is one of the most anticipated socio-economic events for this year. As the Government and many other agencies have projected slower economic growth via the last financial year, there will be more emphasis on ‘ease of doing businesses. Needless to say, the general public and businesses are really hopeful for some major relief in the budget announcements. The Government has already taken a slew of measures to reduce the compliance burden upon businesses across industries. The Union Budget will also bring out more ways to ease liquidity for MSMEs."

Sparsh Garg, Founder and CEO, Educlouds 

"According to a KPMG estimate, the number of edtech startups in the country grew to 3,500 in the previous year. As per Government projections, India’s edtech expenditure could rise to $10 trillion by 2030. The ‘everything virtual’ norm set by the pandemic has ushered a new era of edtech growth and online education in India. Penetrating deeper into urban and rural India, these unique tech-enabled platforms are consistently shaping the future of education in India. To bridge the digital divide and strengthen India’s promising edtech startup ecosystem, we expect the government to provide better internet infrastructure, robust data protection systems and more tax exemptions in the upcoming Union Budget. By ensuring round-the-clock reliability of electricity supply, accessible and affordable high-speed internet, deeper penetration of cheaper connectivity devices such as notebooks, laptops, smartphones etc. to every nook and corner of the country, Government can support India in becoming the Global Hub for Digital Education.”

Hersh Shah, CEO, India Affiliate of Institute of Risk Management, UK (IRM India)

"While online education has transformed India’s education sector, many colleges and universities have experienced the toughest year in terms of enrolments/admissions. This budget is extremely crucial as the sector prepares for recovery. With the Government’s ambitious NEP launched in 2020, it’ll be good to see the categories of fund allocation including investment in technology, clarity on private financing structures for schools/colleges/universities given the liquidity and business continuity risk that many institutions face in Tier 2 and 3 cities. Furthermore, with job automation and many skills becoming redundant in this post-crisis world, higher investment in new-age skills through Skill Development will be necessary to manage unemployment."

Prof Sharad Kumar Jha, Assistant Director, ITM B-School

"The budget 2021 is going to be crucial for various segments of the economy including the Indian education ecosystem. We all know that the Indian Education System needs to be revived and the announcement of National Education Policy provides clear guidelines and recommendations for the specific education plans and its implementation. However, there is utmost need of adequate spending too in the Education Sector, the government should aim to increase its expenditure on education to 7% in coming years. The budgetary spending needs to be clearly divided among various heads like school education, higher education, infrastructure, technology etc for better implementation and surveillance. This is a crucial time for the revival of the education system if we want to have fruits from our rich demographic pattern of population.” 

Tanuja Gomes, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Furtados School of Music

“While the onset of the pandemic has caused a lot of disruption, it has also enabled and helped us transform this space with the maximum usage of digital tools to aide students. With the given focus on education, it is imperative that the entire sector receives a higher allocation of government budgets, atleast by 10-12%. NEP Policy and Extra-curricular activities – The NEP 2020 is a brilliant step in our education field, which focusses on extracurricular and vocational learning integrated with academics. This is a huge step and will help the future generation tremendously, giving an opportunity to every child to explore their potential. Companies which are focussing on such activities should be encouraged and special tax benefits should be considered for them. The entire loan approval process for MSME’s needs to be simplified and reviewed. Last 12 months we have witnessed a huge inflow of investments, similarly we must also review the loans granted to EDtechs through government channels. Edtech sector should also be part of the benefits granted by the government to MSMEs which will enable positive impact and promote good education.”

Aditya Gupta, CEO, India Didactics Association

“Schooling, skilling, higher education and employment go hand in hand. All of it needs to come together for India to realize its vision of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’. So, it is important that funding to education must increase deeply every year to achieve the 6% GDP as envisioned in the New Education policy."

"The pandemic has created a focus towards the importance and continuance of Education. Hybrid is the way forward and may be well-thought-out as the best way forward."

"Hence, the budget must seek ways to increase investments in technology training and deployment across verticals across geographies. Todays’ India envisions to be the Hub of Education globally, which is being discussed in the Virtual Conference TIESS – The International Education & Skill Summit, from 27-30 Jan, the budget needs to identify the global education dynamics and allocate funds accordingly. Imagination remains the key and the kind of foresight that the NEP exhibits, now must be matched with hard financial commitment. I am sure the Finance Minister would rise up to the occasion.”

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