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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Union Budget 2024: Education Sector Anticipates Higher Budget Allocation, Emphasis On Digital Infrastructure

With the Union Budget 2024 just around the corner, India Inc. is expecting significant announcements, including tax cuts, incentives and fiscal stimulus to drive the country’s economic growth. The budget will be tabled by the Honourable Union Finance Minister, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 01, 2024.


In this regard, the education sector holds high hopes for a higher budget allocation and a significant push for digital infrastructure, pedagogy transformation, and teacher development.


”As the country moves to restructure its education system, the reaffirmation of the teacher as a critical member in this journey gains greater emphasis. In this context, effective and ongoing professional development to upskill and equip teachers becomes vital. If education is to be transformative in nature, then teachers should be able to model the skills and competencies that we expect students to possess. Therefore, it becomes imperative for schools to develop a culture of learning to support teachers to improve their teaching practice; helping develop a culture of learning where at all levels people learn and develop their skills as a community,” says Mrs. Nandini Ghatak, Principal of Modern High School International in Kolkata.


Education experts also opine that a strategic fiscal approach is the need of the hour to foster a conducive learning environment that aligns with the objectives of the NEP 2020 and Industry 4.0.


”This requires budgetary allocation since this implies a major shift in the way schools across the country operate. Building teacher networks where exchange of knowledge and skills can be facilitated and devising clear pathways for teacher development and support will go a long way in building schools as learning organisations,” adds Mrs. Ghatak.


Echoing her opinion, Mrs. Kim Menzes, Vice Chancellor of GD Goenka University, states that enhanced public funding will pave the way for technology integration and equitable access to education.


”The Indian Education sector stands at a critical juncture and allocation of resources is important to bridge the current gaps, improve accessibility, and elevate the quality of education, all of which are visionary targets set by the NEP 2020. There has been a persistent demand for enhanced public funding, revision of curricula to meet industry needs, and improvement of digital infrastructure to ensure equitable access to education. The higher education sector in India therefore expects significant financial measures from the Interim Budget 2024-25 that will enable academic growth and innovation. Specifically, the sector anticipates increased budgetary allocation for research and development, lower rates of interest for student loans, and less tax burden for universities,” says Mrs. Menzes.


The sector is also zeroing in on advancing research and innovation within educational institutions and anticipates a supportive regulatory framework and adequate government funding to accomplish the same.


”In the education sector, the upcoming budget is likely to focus on strengthening and deepening the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) initiatives. First focus will be Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) which is targeted to reach 50 per cent by 2035. It is a big take and the budget is expected to allocate appropriate funds in the form of investment and capacity creation. Emphasis on vocational education is expected to be another focus as the NEP has kept a target of 50 per cent learners to have vocational exposure. The use of AI in education and further promotion of digital learning is expected to be the highlight of the upcoming budget. A well designed teachers training module will be the need of the hour in this regard and we expect that the budget will take cognizance of this aspect,” says Mr. Prabhat Pankaj, Director, Jaipuria Institute of Management.


”I am also expecting that the ‘Study in India’ program and raising the image of Indian Universities through international ranking of higher educational institutions must also draw attention of the government in this budget. Private institutions are also looking up to a better and fair deal in terms of regulatory ease and government funding for research,” adds Mr. Pankaj.


The Union Budget 2024 presents an opportunity for a significant shift in this narrative. It’s time to envision hospitality education as a skill-based vocational course and a comprehensive, multidisciplinary educational stream critical to the nation’s growth. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 emphasizes a more holistic, flexible, and multidisciplinary approach to education and offers the perfect framework for this integration.


As India strides towards its goal of a USD 5000 per capita economy, the hospitality sector can be a driving force. To realize this potential, hospitality education must be recognized as a foundational pillar from the early stages of education. It requires a paradigm shift and regulatory oversight akin to professional degrees overseen by bodies like ICAI, BCI, Council of Architecture, and NMC Said Mr. Kunal Vasudeva, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Indian School of Hospitality.


With all eyes on Budget 2024, the education sector remains optimistic about key reforms that align with the directives of the NEP 2020 and empower our students to navigate the intricacies of the changing business landscape.

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