Today’s government has a responsibility of not only correcting the short term economic crisis but also needs to look at the country’s economy in the long run. And education, especially early education, is the most important investment a country can make. One of the major issues plaguing our education system today is that schools are not aligned to future
The current education system is designed for the industrial age and definitely not for the age of information. The challenge right now is not just producing students who will get jobs but students who can thrive in the volatile environment of tomorrow.
The nature of jobs and careers are going to change due to the automation of industries and the advent of artificial intelligence. But schools are still using the old British system of rote learning. As a result, we produce students who rarely have any skills apart from the acquiting the ability to memorize or write in cursive handwriting. That needs to change significantly if we need to build a better future. To help narrow down the education-employability gap and develop a skilled workforce, we need to get the Ed-Tech companies to the forefront. It is high time that the government gives this need its due recognition and boost to this sector in the upcoming Union Budget.
We need the best of minds and capital to come into this sector. The return on investment for the country is on the highest if we invest in education. A lot of research that is happening in education today is because of the work done by education service providers. So, reviving SEZs, giving tax benefits and encouraging more people to set up EdTechs should be the special focus, more than any other technology.
Later in the year, we will see the release of the National Education Policy (NEP). It is expected that contemporary and emerging trends will be incorporated into the curriculum. When it comes to educational institutions, I think there is a lot of scope for public-private partnerships. The Union budget of 2019 allocated Rs 94,853.64 crore for the education sector, an increase of nearly Rs 10,000 crore from the previous year. The school sector received Rs 56, 536.63 crore and the rest of the Rs 38,317.01 crore was allocated to higher education. Despite this, higher education has become very outdated. The solution to this is public-private partnerships. We should have faith in each other’s contributions.
The government sector and the private sector, both bring complementary skills and resources to the table. The government has vast resources of land and infrastructure, and the private sector has good execution capabilities. If these can come together, we can definitely create better institutions. We have already seen how computer institutes were majorly responsible for the IT boom in the country. It was mostly driven by the private sector as opposed to the engineering colleges. In the last budget, the teacher training initiative by CBSE was allocated only Rs 125 crore when compared to the Rs 871 crore allocated before. This definitely needs to change as the country could do with more emphasis on equipping educators. The upcoming budget should also take steps to ensure that no student should end his or her educational pursuit owing to lack of funds. To make lifelong learning possible for students, the budget should look at subsidizing education loans and make education affordable for all. The government needs to take the required steps to promote holistic education which ensuresliteracy, life skills and employability.