The Union Budget 2017 was a unique one. This is the first time in nearly a century that a Budget combining the Railways Budget was presented.
India Finance Minister Arun Jaitley focused the Budget on rural infrastructure, digitization of Indian economy and several other sops to make up for the damage done by the recent announcement made on demonetizing major currency notes.
In the slew of announcements, Education featured as one of the government’s main focus too.
The government said it will set up a national testing agency to conduct all exams for higher education so that CBSE and AICTE can focus on academics. Colleges will be given autonomous status.
The government intends to launch Swayam, a platform with over 300 online courses to push virtual education.
MOOC Will Help People to Build Skills & Gain Employment
Professor Vijay Vancheswar, Professor for Strategy & General Management at IMI, New Delhi said Swayam or Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) would help people to build skills and gain employment.
“The digital education initiative will help unlock the learning and development needs of the youth who are increasingly aligned to the digital age and technological development happening in the country,” Vancheswar said.
Innovation Fund & Autonomy A Welcome Move
Professor Dheeraj Sanghi, the Dean of Academics at IIIT- Delhi said setting up of an Innovation Fund for secondary education for ensuring universal access, gender parity and quality improvement is a welcome move and hopefully it will include ICT enabled learning.
“Proposal to provide autonomy to institutes of higher education to further add impetus to growth in the private sector but the National Testing Agency should not only manage large scale tests and should also have a research wing for research on testing like ETS in USA.”
Next Step Should Be To Set Up International Skill Centres
Dr Narendra Shyamsukha, the Founder & Chairman of ICA Edu Skills said one big challenge that skill development faced till now was paucity of finances for creating awareness among youth and influencers, but with INR 4,000 crore set aside for this project under the Budget things should look up.
“The next step should be to set up international skill centres to groom skilled professional for global market. On education front, it is good to see that the administrative burden of entrance exams has been taken off from AICTE and CBSE so that they can focus on their core competency which is quality academics,” said Shyamsukha.
Major Attention Given to Skill & Vocational Training
Aditya Malik, CEO & MD, Talentedge said he supports the government’s call to acknowledge the importance of skill learning and the allocation of INR 2,200 crore towards skill strengthening.
“The need of the hour is to focus on youth and provide them with opportunities that will help them grow their skills and in turn contribute back to the development of the country. Imparting education through digital is the future of education and we strongly believe that this will build the efficacy in the education system; making it more learner-centric,” Malik said.
Budget Silent on Sector-based Support to Startups
Rishi Kapal, Global Strategist & CEO of EduGild said the focus of the budget in supporting initiatives to make job-ready youth is welcome but the Budget is silent on sector based support to startups.
“We expect a labor market information system to be created where industry job needs can be forecast with accuracy. The initiative to open 350 online courses can be of a huge impact if the post program assessment is solid and transparent. Digitization of proctoring with help of government budgets will make the move realistic,” said Kapal.