The Hon’ble Finance Minister in his budget speech announced India’s aspiration of becoming the 5th largest global economy and cited the structural reforms and other initiatives undertaken as part of this journey. A key area of focus towards fulfilling this aspiration is ensuring that we have the required quality of human capital, which is an essential factor for driving such growth.
Today, the quality of education has emerged as a serious concern based on the findings of the recently conducted national survey on learning outcomes. A significant proportion of students across the country were found to fall short of the desired benchmark levels. Accordingly, this year’s budget has focused on addressing this concern through various initiatives and measures.
Highlights of Budget 2018:
- Key amongst these, as stated by the Hon’ble Minister as moving from Blackboard to Digital Board, is digital technology playing a significant role in improving the quality of education through introducing conceptual learning methods
- The need to train our teachers in adopting and implementing these new teaching methodologies has been addressed through proposals on training in-service teachers leveraging e-learning and digital methods including the DIKSHA portal
- A fund has been proposed with rupees one lakh crore to be allocated over the next 4 years to the Higher Education Financing Agency for the scheme titled Revitalizing Infrastructure in School Education (RISE). It is expected that a significant proportion of these funds will be used in digitising classrooms in public education institutes resulting in improved learning outcomes. These measures are expected to provide a level playing field to students from public institutions both in urban and rural areas as compared to select private education institutions already providing such facilities
- The budget has also laid emphasis on infrastructure building with large allocations for connectivity infrastructure as envisaged under the Bharatmala programme, railway network augmentation programme, ongoing urban transformation programmes like 100 smart cities programme and AMRUT etc.
- These programmes over the next couple of years will result in large scale infrastructure design, construction, development as well as the need to operate and maintain. This will require expertise and skills in contemporary design and engineering for which our education and vocational training systems need to be prepared
- The announcement of setting up 2 Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) on challenge mode and another 18 SPAs as autonomous institutions on existing IIT/ NIT premises will go a long way in building the design capacity required
- The proposed railway university at Vadodara will create capability and expertise to not only cater to the augmentation and modernization of the Indian railways, but also other initiatives across the country like the proposed high speed rail connection between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Mass Rapid Transit systems being implemented across cities, port railways being implemented in PPP mode etc.
- The 24 new government medical colleges proposed by upgrading district hospitals will not only address the regional imbalances in availability of medical professionals, but also ensure the reach of modern medical equipment and treatment facilities & protocol at these locations
With the new-age India set to be a leading knowledge and digital society, the national programme on setting up centres of excellence in emerging areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain is a timely initiative.
The above initiatives will go a long way in developing expertise and skills required in the new age economy and we will be able to reach our goal of being one of the top 5 global economies as well as meet the aspirations of our young citizens.
-Article by Anindya Mallick, a Partner with Deloitte in India.