Education Sector’s Wishlist for Budget 2024: Investing in People and Achieving NEP Targets

The upcoming Interim Budget 2024-25 is a highly anticipated event, particularly within the education sector. As the nation gears up for the presentation of the budget, experts and professionals within the education field have voiced their expectations and recommendations for the government to consider. These proposals encompass various aspects, including infrastructural development, capacity building, and aligning educational curricula with the evolving job market. Let’s delve into the diverse perspectives and recommendations put forth by individuals closely tied to the education landscape.

Investing in Infrastructural Facilities and Capacity Building

Shashi Banerjee, the Director of Education at Shiv Nadar School, emphasizes the critical need for additional infrastructural facilities, teacher capacity building, and the recruitment of extra teachers in elementary schools. Specifically, he highlights plans such as integrating Anganwadis with elementary schools and introducing a ‘Preparatory Class’ or ‘Balavatika’ before Class 1. These initiatives are in line with the National Education Policy’s (NEP) vision and objectives, centering on infrastructure, capacity, and collaboration (IC2). Furthermore, Shashi Banerjee underscores the need for budgetary support for schemes like PM Poshan and Swayam, indicating the financial backing required to realize these programs effectively.

Bridging Global Educational Gaps

Vishwanathan Iyer, a Senior Associate Professor and Director of Accreditation at Chennai’s Great Lakes Institute of Management, stresses the significance of aligning capital expenditure with investments in human resources to bridge global disparities in education. This alignment is essential to address pressing issues such as the faculty-student ratio and internationalization indicators, which have been highlighted in the QS Asia University Rankings 2024. Iyer underscores the urgency for substantial fiscal support, advocating for a transformational leap facilitated by a proposed 100% increase in the education budget to ₹2.25 trillion. He points to robust tax collections and a significant surplus in revenue as crucial enablers of this transformative leap.
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Incorporating Indian Knowledge System and Industry-Academia Collaboration

Anand Achari, the Principal of Vivekanand Education Society’s College of Architecture, emphasizes the incorporation of the Indian knowledge system into the educational curriculum as a pivotal area for development. This endeavor necessitates curricula development or upgradation, faculty training or orientation, and the inclusion of artists- and artisans-in-residence in higher education institutions. Furthermore, Achari underscores the need to strengthen industry-academia collaboration to align academic curricula with the evolving job market. Prioritizing financial support for academic-industry collaboration emerges as a crucial element in forging robust connections between educational institutions and industries.

Budget Allocations in the Education Sector

In the financial year 2023-24, the education sector witnessed its highest-ever allocation of ₹1.12 lakh crore. This substantial budget allocation encompassed ₹68,804 crore for school education, ₹44,094.62 crore for higher education, and ₹37,453 crore for the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. These allocations underscore the government’s commitment to enhancing the educational landscape and driving foundational changes across different educational domains.

Conclusion

The wishlist presented by professionals and experts within the education sector encapsulates diverse areas of focus, ranging from infrastructural development and capacity building to aligning educational curricula with industry requirements. The upcoming Interim Budget 2024-25 represents an opportune moment for the government to consider these recommendations and allocate resources effectively to support the realization of these vital initiatives. As the education sector looks forward to embracing the transformative potential of budgetary allocations, it remains poised to surmount the challenges and embrace the opportunities on the horizon.

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