29 Jan 2018 19:43 IST

Invest in education to add value to economy

Educators and hiring companies say the Budget should leverage the demographic dividend

As one of the world's fastest growing economies, India needs to leverage its demographic advantage by strengthening educational institutions, creating centres of excellence and encouraging e-learning and digitisation. To achieve this, the Centre must incentivise investment in the sector, with a particular fillip to public-private partnerships that create a stronger economy. Here are a few views on what the Finance Minister should do in the Budget for the education sector.

 

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

 

With India poised to become the fastest growing economy in the world in 2018, it must ensure development of requisite skills to reap its demographic dividend advantage. To achieve the same, there is a need to gear our education system to focus on learning outcomes and teachers’ training, which are key to capacity building. For India to leverage its strengths and opportunities on a global scale, it needs to undertake significant reforms and investments in building education and skills, strengthening its innovation system, promoting English as a life skill and further bolstering its information infrastructure.

To create and sustain an effective knowledge economy, India must undertake systemic integration of education reforms to strengthen its competitive advantage. In this Budget, we hope that the government will give prominence to increasing quality of higher education and overall quality of schooling. We also hope that the government will continue to promote e-learning through digitisation in education, which will encourage youth to shift to digital platforms for advanced learning.

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

 

This year's budget is the most awaited announcement after the introduction of new Goods and Services Tax (GST) scheme. We can expect some changes in the direct tax structure including in income tax. Budgetary policy changes can make digital learning more approachable and accessible for the middle and low-income groups. While school education is expected to get a much-needed boost with a rise of up to 14 per cent, the government must support the higher education sector as it continues to be an expensive proposition for the average youth of the country. Programmes meant to monitor the education sector and schools, the National Assessment Survey, might get a hike too.

The government’s recent focus on creating education institutes of excellence is a step in the right direction. The budget should further strengthen this initiative. To make education accessible to all, the government should offer a better rebate on interest on education loan to make it more attractive to the youth of the country.

Prof Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, WeSchool

 

India is currently the fastest growing economy in the world. It has an upper edge with its demographic dividend which needs to be appropriately skilled to add economic value to the nation. We welcome various initiatives undertaken by the Government to provide a thrust to skilling the youth. However, it needs to incentivise higher education institutions that are contributing towards the mission of skilling India. A vigorous push is required to implement policies that support this initiative so that there is only brain gain and no brain drain.

We believe quality education is the foundation of building socio-economic factors and, more importantly, in building high-value human capital. Thus, the Government should expedite the drafting and implementation of the New Education Policy as it has the potential to bring about the paradigm shift in the education sector. The main aim should be on providing quality education for all by incentivising investment from private and foreign players. This will help the benchmarking of our education standards to be on par with the global standards.

Moreover, it is imperative to take education to the grassroots level and lessen the burden on parents and students. The Government should consider re-working on taxation rates and consider GST to be taxed under least possible way, preferably 0 per cent on education institution. Education sector definitely needs a steep increase in the budget allocation in order to comprehend the long-term vision to impart skills to 50 crore youth by 2022 and increase the employability and acceptability of Indian youth on global platforms.

Sanjay Modi, Managing Director, Monster.com, APAC & Middle East

 

This will be one of the more significant budgets as it happens on the back of a year of radical reforms such as demonetisation, implementation of GST and a new bankruptcy regime. The year 2017 ended on a high with GDP growth at 6.3 per cent in the July-Sept quarter, indicating that the significant impact of the two structural reforms — GST and demonetisation — is now behind us and hopefully, in 2018, we can expect an upward growth.

I am hopeful that this year too, there is impetus towards skills enhancement, that will aid job creation and we can effectively leverage our demographic dividend. Technological disruptions in the form of AI and machine learning are a reality and have been shaping the narrative of India’s recent economic growth and digital transformation. Hence, if we truly need to change the game, there needs to be singular focus to roll out initiatives to boost adoption of technology for education and skilling and infusing a new breath of life into our vocational education courses to meet the aspirations of new India through public-private partnerships.

Hopes that the Government will focus on a further revival of the economy and confidence of local businesses through the ‘Make in India’ programme, with a thrust on facilitating exports, are also high. This will, in turn, support creation of jobs in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, strengthening the backbone of our economy.

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