What Isn’t There For Education Sector In Budget 2020-21?

Increasing the budget outlay is a positive move but research has shown that quantity itself is not enough and that quality of education matters even more for economic growth.

The budget comes with a 99,300 crore outlay for education which is certainly an important step. FDI has also been permitted in the education sector. These initiatives will bring much needed additional financial resources in the education sector. The Indian government has traditionally spent far less money on education (in terms of per cent of GDP) than countries like Brazil, China and Russia. Quantitatively speaking, with this budget we have taken a step forward. 

Increasing the budget outlay is a positive move but research has shown that quantity itself is not enough. According to a World Bank report on ‘Education Quality and Economic Growth’, the quality of education directly influences individual’s earnings. The report also states that higher investment doesn’t necessarily lead to higher quality, and that quality of education matters even more for economic growth. 

Significantly, the budget envisages that India urgently needs to make our young population job ready. According to a 2017-18 NSSO survey, India’s unemployment rate is at 6.1 per cent, its worst in 45 years. Job readiness is by far the most important education related goal of this budget. There is a direct correlation between education quality and making the population job ready. The government’s new education policy is to be announced soon. Several key questions that have not yet been answered are:

How will the government improve the quality of education?

Has it identified and defined the skills that will make our population job ready?

How is it planning to reform the traditional classroom to teach skills needed in the future?

Will it opt for the Germany type dual path cognitive and vocational development model or come up with some other innovative model? 

Does it plan to set up a new generation of schools and teacher training colleges?

How can the energy and initiative of the private sector be unleashed? 

The World Economic Forum published its list of skills required in the future which included creativity, originality, initiative, innovation, analytical thinking and active learning. The government will need to identify teaching mechanisms that will help develop these skills. 

Joshua Hartshorne, a MIT's Cognitive Science researcher, found that overall brain processing power peaks at around 18 years. Therefore substantive changes will be required at the primary and secondary school education levels. Progressive teaching and learning models such as problem based learning, inquiry based learning and experiential learning are transforming schools around the world. They are focussed on developing the skills required in a rapidly changing world. The government will need to create a next generation of schools and teacher training colleges, all based on newer and progressive teaching methodologies. It will need to modify its assessment process to be able to assess the new skills required in the future. 

India will also need to invest more and more in research to find out which methodologies are working and which require to be modified. The research will need to compare traditional and progressive models with each other, as well as compare various schools and school districts with one another. Innovative technology platforms, learning management systems and teacher evaluation rubrics will need to be created. 

Most importantly, our outdated examinations system will need overhaul. A minimum of 33 per cent of weightage will need to be given to the skills that will make young people job ready in the future. For students more suited to vocational education, a separate stream will need to be created. 

Countries such as Korea, Vietnam and Colombia have transformed their school education systems via unique and innovative models. It is hoped that our government will have the curiosity to learn from some of these models and the will to effect changes. 

The new education policy is eagerly awaited, which is to be announced soon with the sincere hope that it is based on the voice of innovation, technology, training and research. 

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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