01 Feb 2018 18:27 IST

Digital education to drive the future

This is how players in the education sector are reacting to the Budget

Shantanu Rooj, Founder and CEO, Schoolguru

The budget had little to offer to higher education in the country. While the Finance Minister introduced several initiatives for primary school education such as transforming classrooms to digital ones, setting up of the Eklavya schools for the tribal population and enhancing the scope of a teacher’s training to better the quality of teaching, he had nothing special to offer to the higher education sector.

Setting up the long-pending railway university and the new schools of planning and architecture seem like a lopsided approach to bettering higher education as it caters to select sectors. The Finance Minister has made no provisions for creation of infrastructure in the higher education space that could have led to higher gross enrolment ratio.

He spoke about technology being the biggest driver for enhancing the quality of education in the country. However, we could not find any incentive to the ed-tech companies working in this space to help institutions implement and use technology for bringing in quality education.

We are also disappointed that the higher education service has not been exempted from the provisions of the GST.

Naveen Mandava, Co-Founder, IMAX Program

The budget has a positive outlook to education. Getting students to schools is not a priority anymore; instead, improving the quality of education is. The plan to devise a district-wise strategy, enhance teacher training and usage of digital boards is welcome. But it won’t be enough.

The National Achievement Survey shows that even in class 5, more than 50 per cent of students were not able to do a simple subtraction of 555 minus 198. To be able to have macro improvement, we need to go micro. We should delineate the learning outcome and have one-on-one follow-up with each and every student. District level tracking is a positive step but we should fast move towards interventions that allow us to follow-up and improve every student.

Rajendra Prasad Nadella, Co-Founder and Managing Director, iScholar

Education, for once, got due attention from the Finance Minister in the budget speech. Arun Jaitley acknowledged that technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education. Among other major announcements are Eklavya schools in tribal areas on the lines of Navodaya schools, integrated Bed programmes, and initiatives for teacher training. The announcement of five lakh WiFi hotspots in rural areas will enable access to high-quality education.

Harish Doraiswamy, Vice President - Qualifications, Schools and Vocational, Pearson India

The government has presented a well-balanced budget with a focus on addressing the fundamental needs of education in India. The budget rightly focuses on movement from traditional blackboards to digital boards, which offer an enhanced learning experience.

We are confident that the promotion of digital platforms and use of technology will increase reach and ensure superior outcomes.

The government understands the need for quality education and setting up of a higher education finance agency, an integrated BEd programme and revitalising infrastructure by 2022 with ₹1 lakh crore investment in next four years. The significant budgetary allocation towards improving education infrastructure augurs well for learners.

Ratnesh Jha, Managing Director, Cambridge University Press, South Asia

This is a balanced budget as far as education is concerned. The government has rightly focused on improving educational infrastructure in the country and plans to strengthen capacity-building through improvement in teacher training.

The decision to treat education holistically without any segmentation is a welcome move and will lend greater synergy in planning and execution of important schemes and programmes. This is expected to smooth the process of mapping learning outcomes with curriculum across all levels.

It is heartening to see a greater emphasis being laid on teacher training. With a focus on increasing digital intensity in education, the budget is quite futuristic.