The education sector witnessed groundbreaking changes in the past year with schools and other educational institutions being shut and classes being shifted online in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The transition from traditional learning to digital methods has helped the growth of EdTech start-ups and existing companies, and it will most likely continue.
During the previous budget, the education sector saw a key development in the form of National Education Policy (NEP-2020) introduced by the government to bring reforms. However, the implementation of 'NEP 2020' requires an increase in spending on education.
Charu Noheria, Co-founder and COO, Practically, said "With National Education Policy (NEP 2020) already setting the pace for enormous skill development, we would expect the Government to increase the education expenditure in the current Union budget for implementation."
Noheria further added, "Government must support us by allocating sufficient funds and devising strategies to make digital education accessible by ensuring availability of internet connectivity, laptops, tablets, smartphones etc. either through direct government programs or through Public Private Partnership (PPP) model."
In the 2020 Budget, Rs 99,300 crore was allocated to the education sector while Rs 3,000 crore was channelled towards skill development.
Rohit Gajbhiye, Founder, Financepeer said, "The stakeholders in the edtech sector are eyeing the Budget 2021 with a lot of expectations as the government has already signalled allocation of 6 percent of the GDP towards education."
Gajbhiye added "Also, the gap in the quality of education between rural and urban areas has to be a priority, and technology is pivotal for that. We are also expecting the government to lay the ground for a gradual increase in the annual budget of education to 10 percent of the GDP to create an ecosystem for a vigorous research and development infrastructure."
"By 2030, India is set to have the largest working-age population in the world. Not only do they need literacy but they need both job and life skills," Sitharaman said in the previous year's budget speech. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' or a self-reliant India will be incomplete without an emphasis on skill development.
Aakash Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) said, "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."
The socioeconomic inequality brought about due to the pandemic is something that the government needs to pay attention to. While the affluent section of the society swiftly switched to the online mode, most of the poor strata of the population suffered due to lack of technical support.
Chaudhry said, "As classroom education has undergone a complete change due to the emergence of COVID-19, we expect that the government will put more focus on online education in Tier II and III cities, and envisage avenues to make India one of the preferred higher education destinations in the world."
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