The Union Budget 22-23 has allocated more funds for education as compared to the previous year’s budgetary allocation. School education has received `63,449.37 crore and `40,810.34 crore has been allocated to higher education. Some of the main areas of the education budget are mentioned below:
· Proposal to set up digital university - The purpose of it has been to provide access to students across the country for world class quality education with personalised learning experience. The best public universities and institutions in the country will collaborate as a network of hub-spokes.
· One class-one TV channel policy will be implemented - The purpose is to provide education, mainly for students from economically weaker sections, SC and ST communities of rural areas. The number of such channels are 12 at present. But it would be increased to 200 for all the regional languages in India.
· Focus on skill development and training - In this regard Nirmala Sitharaman said, “In vocational courses, with a view to promote critical thinking skills, to give space for creativity, 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics, 75 skilling e-labs for simulated learning environments, will be set-up in 2022-23.”
· High level of E-Content via Digital Teachers - This proposal is meant for empowering and equipping the students with digital tools for teaching and facilitating better learning outcomes.
· DESH-Stack to be launched - This is an e-portal like a digital ecosystem for up-skilling.
· National Tele-mental Health programme to be launched - This will provide tele- health services. It will also provide a comprehensive platform for mental health care that can be scaled up nationally.
· It has also been proposed to develop quality content in all spoken languages that can be developed across medium from TV and radio to mobile telephones. This is meant for all government school students from class 1 to class 12.
A new route for foreign universities
In the case of higher education, the budget has stated that global academic institutes can set up campuses through GIFT IFSC (international financial services centre). They will be allowed to operate in the GIFT City free from domestic regulations. In these centres the subjects of study has also been specified. The course offered will be financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Some areas that need special emphasis
A long-standing weakness of our education system has been its bias towards higher education. It is claimed that the school education has not been adequately addressed. India should give more emphasis on ensuring quality basic education. School education is truly under the responsibility of the state governments. Only a few states like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu have achieved better results.
The Indian finance minister has allocated money to make up for losses in education during the Covid phase. But many experts think learning through TV or other digitally served educational medium is virtually impossible. In most of the rural areas, this system will not be practically possible. Even a large section of urban students cannot avail digitally served education.
Another concern has been that Budget 22-23 has drastically reduced funds for teachers’ training and adult education - from `250 crore in 21-22 to `127 crore in 22-23. This may create unfavourable consequences in future. Additionally, many observers, including Anil Swapoop, former secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India, have reportedly questioned the need for launching a new additional Education Policy 2020 by the NDA government because the policy advocated spending 6% of GDP on education which remains a far cry in the present situation.