Authored by: Pankaj Agarwal, Founder & CEO – TagHive
The Union Budget is fundamentally a platform where the Government showcases its strength, its ability, its wherewithal, and its serious implementation plans for investing in the future. It paves the way for sectors to create conducive environments and the right ecosystems for the growth of the sectors that would work towards nation-building. It is therefore not a far-fetched dream but a current reality that the edtech sector in India is one such area that can catapult India’s reformatory efforts to becoming a globally strong leader and contender. The industry is predicted to grow in size and reach USD 4bn by 2025, and the sudden development and fast rise in consumption and popularity are credited to the pandemic. Having said that, the sector is going through myriad course corrections and business models are being realigned to various levels that are both macro and micro in nature. The GOI has made it very clear that there are not going to be any compromises in the implementation of the ambitious reforms of the NEP 2020. The year that went by was proof with several speedy initiatives being taken and the seriousness is all the more reflected with efforts being made towards complete digitization of public education systems with massive thrust in areas of skill enhancement, quality learning-teaching, monitoring-measuring, and classroom assessment. Not just school education but even higher education in India is going through several reforms and it looks like our country is taking the right steps toward making it a global education hub. Therefore, it is all the more logical that the upcoming Union Budget (2023-2024) will focus on the health and robustness of the sector while viewing an extraordinary vision.
As per some analysts, the Union budget for 2023-24 is expected to be INR 42.40 lakh crore, with INR 3.12 lakh crore set aside for education. The focus would be digitisation and the following are the key expectations:
National Education Policy Push
When the NEP was launched in 2020, its motto was Educate, Encourage and Enlighten. The government’s purpose to launch this policy was to develop 21st-century skills in the students of India. The amendments in NEP from the previous education policy strive for Research, Innovation, and Quality. For the seamless implementation of this education policy, FM Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman allocated INR 50,000 crores to the National Research Foundation in 2021, and INR 40 crore to Ekalavya Schools. The same focus on development for education infrastructure is expected to continue in 2023 as well.
EdTech Infra Thrust
The Government’s goal to establish a NETF (National Educational Technology Forum) is a major boost to tech-enabled learning solutions. The forum is set to work to elevate digital teaching methods in different schools by providing new and unique ideas related to it. While greater investment in areas of AI learning and other evolving technologies is expected, affordable access to digital tools for students, especially in tier 2 & 3 towns and government schools must be given. The mission of establishing smart classrooms is happening at a rapid pace across various states, and it is expected that there will be a major push in this area as well.
PM Shri Schools Focus
Substantial investments in school reforms across all states are being taken. The Union Cabinet has authorized to upgrade of 14,500 schools for Rs 27,360 crores over five years under the PM Shri project. Administrative frameworks like Samagra Shiksha, KVS, and NVS are already in place and these will be deployed to create model schools with cutting-edge facilities, teaching strategies, and technological advancements for other government schools to follow. It is expected that the budget keeps in mind more investment which will directly benefit over 18,00,000 students in India.
Funding of indigenous innovations initiative
The Indian civilisation is one of the oldest civilisations with a thriving cultural heritage. The country has a strong tradition of science and technology. Our minds and intellectual prowess have contributed significantly in every single sphere. India’s global position, both in terms of scientific publications and innovations, has been steadily rising over the years. We hold the 8th rank in patents filed by resident scientists according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Indigenous innovations are key to India’s technological and socio-economic leadership globally. India is poised to become a hotbed for rising market innovations and new business ideas. Plans to deepen and strengthen indigenous R&D efforts must start. Funding the National Research Foundation (NRF) with the first tranche of INR 10,000 crore as part of the new National Education Policy 2020 must be quickly implemented.
In line with the above plans, the Ed-tech sector is also expecting the following benefits from the Union Budget 2023-24:
- Subsidised/Incentivised training sessions for government school teachers when it comes to upskilling them with digital-first learning methods
- Subsidies for Ed-Tech start-ups and innovators for promoting non-English/Regional language-compatible learning tools
- Access to/easier opportunity for collaboration with government institutes through platforms like GeM (GoI’s e-marketplace for SMEs/MSMEs and Start-ups)
- Subsidies/tax rebates/Incentives for international knowledge sharing and collaborations for innovation in Education Technology
In conclusion, as online and digital platforms are becoming the new normal, the overall edtech industry will need to take accountability and responsibility for the content that goes on these platforms. We have to understand and assimilate a lot of learnings from mature edtech countries. There has to be policy-level thrust on key areas like – course content, instructional course designs, student-teacher classroom assessment, course evaluation, and management. One of the key factors that I feel our current burgeoning system is lacking is the data-driven standards of measurement. Importantly all stakeholders of education should keep in mind that any learning model developed be designed concerning an underlying pedagogical model and standards of measurement. Hence the union budget while giving thrust to digitization infra should also look at driving a healthy EdTech ecosystem.
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