'Ensure finances for safe reopening of schools'

Union Budget 2021 | Govt should ensure finances for safe reopening of schools, says Canadian International School MD

Good percentage of the budget should focus on schools being able to manage costs of online education, she writes

Ms. Shweta Sastri, Managing Director, Canadian International School, Bangalore

By Ms. Shweta Sastri

Education plays an important role in bringing a change in society across generations and more so now in this technological age. With education being the key component in shaping the future workforce, a good percentage of the budget should focus on schools being able to manage costs of online education which have become a necessity now.

The education cess should also be utilised transparently to improve government schools across the country. This is probably the most awaited Union Budget for the education sector in the past decade with the education of millions of children in India impacted by the world’s largest school closure in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government must ensure additional finances to support the safe reopening of schools.

Apart from these measures, the academic system needs transformation through adoption of innovative and contemporary teaching and learning methodologies. Accordingly, the Indian education system will need to focus on creativity and lifelong learning which will be essential in preparation for a career where the key constant will be continuous disruptions.

Education clearly is one of the most important investments a country can make in its people and their future. Our education system needs to be self-reliant and globally competitive.

This will only be possible when the emerging technology trends are incorporated into the education pattern of the country. The government must take initiatives such as allocating bigger spending on education and push greater digitization in the education sector in the upcoming budget.

The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) and Covid-19 are two significant factors that have made it amply clear that Education is a sector that needs greater attention from the Government in the upcoming budget.

People expect the government to give the education sector equal importance in comparison with other sectors and the government should look to increase budgetary allocation towards this sector. There is need to improve facilities in institutions through the setting up of smart classrooms, modern laboratories, research facilities and libraries which would enhance the quality of learning.

The current budgetary allocation for education in our country is less than 3% of the GDP, which is low, compared to developed countries where it usually ranges between 5% and 7% of the GDP.

This increased allocation of fund will also ensure better quality government schools too that educate majority of children in India. Infrastructure should also be revamped to improve the quality of education services.

Study In India program needs more investment for infrastructure and private sector penetration to uplift current institutes so that India starts pushing more institutes in the world ranking in the coming years.

Inculcating stronger Public-Private Partnerships with education institutions for more efficient execution and designing better models for the deeper spread of internet bandwidth, and making hardware devices more affordable for accessing good education content by children in rural areas would need to be the key themes for Budget 2021.

The other area requiring significant budget allocation would be training of teachers in using new age teaching aids and tools. Going forward, we also expect a boost in the growth of distance education in India and balancing of the urban-rural gap in education.

Owing to high economic deprivation in India, government’s focus should be on bolstering primary public education. A holistic approach to education is therefore a must as there needs to be thrust not only on literacy, but also on higher quality of education beginning from basic school levels.

The idea behind this is to make best use of India’s demographic dividend. With India set to be an international educational destination in the current decade, government must act to meet the needs of an aspiring generation which is looking to the future with great hope.

(The author is Managing Director, Canadian International School, Bangalore)