Budget 2020 has increased the allocation for the education sector by 5 percent to Rs 99,311.52 crore in FY21.
Of this, the department of higher education has been allocated Rs 39,466.52 crore while the school education and literacy department was given Rs 59,845 crore.
“By 2030, India is set to have the largest working-age population in the world. Not only do they need literacy but they need both job and life skills,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech.
For the skill development ministry and its various programmes, an allocation of Rs 3,002.21 crore has been proposed for FY21 compared to Rs 2,531.04 crore in FY20.
The finance minister said that dialogue had been held with state education ministries, members of Parliament and other stake-holders about the new education policy and that it would be announced soon.
Sitharaman also added that the education system needed a greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs.
In the higher education sector in particular, the outlay for the improvement of the salary scale of teachers has been hiked from Rs 1,800 crore in FY20 to Rs 1,900 crore in FY21.
When it comes to funding, the Budget has proposed steps to enable sourcing External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) and foreign direct investment (FDI) so as to be able to deliver higher quality education. Right now, 100 percent FDI is allowed in the education sector.
Skilling and employability
Related to education is the issue of employability of students. Budget 2020 has said that students in the general stream need their employability improved.
“About 150 higher educational institutions will start apprenticeship embedded degree/diploma courses by March 2021,” said the finance minister.
Further, the government will also start a programme whereby urban local bodies across the country would provide internship opportunities to fresh engineers for a period up to one year.
Not all students are able to access higher education facilities. For this, a degree level full-fledged online education programme will be started.
“This shall be offered only by institutions who are ranked within the top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking framework. Initially, only a few such institutions would be asked to offer such programmes,” said Sitharaman.
Study in India
India should be a preferred destination for higher education, said the finance minister. Hence, under its ‘Study in India’ programme, Sitharaman said that a new examination Ind-SAT was proposed to be held in Asian and African countries.
This is similar to the SAT examination used globally for taking admission-related decision for students.
This examination will be used for benchmarking foreign candidates who receive scholarships for studying in Indian higher education centres.
Under the Budget, a total of Rs 65 crore has been allocated for ‘Study in India’ in FY21 compared to Rs 32 crore in revised estimate FY20.
A National Police University and a National Forensic Science University are being proposed in the domain of policing science, forensic science, cyber-forensics.
Similarly when it comes to healthcare, Sitharaman said that there was a shortage of qualified medical doctors, both general practitioners as well as specialists.
“In order to meet this requirement, it is proposed to attach a medical college to an existing district hospital in PPP mode. Those states that fully allow the facilities of the hospital to the medical college and wish to provide land at a concession, would be able to receive Viability Gap Funding,” she added.
In her Budget speech, the finance minister said that there exists a huge demand for teachers, nurses, paramedical staff and care-givers abroad. However, their skill-sets, many a time, do not match the employer’s standards and therefore need to be improved.
“I propose that special bridge courses be designed by the Ministries of Health, Skill Development together with professional bodies to bring in equivalence. Language requirements of various countries need also to be included. All these should be achieved through special training packages,” she added.