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Budget 2018-2019: A bridge to the future of education

The highly anticipated budget, by the Narendra Modi led government, has finally been released. The mass budget that was quoted brings significant relief to the education sector by improving the overall quality of education, along with the much awaited infrastructural push. The budget saw the implementation of a district wise strategy to improve the quality of education, while achieving standard learning outcomes based on the results of the national achievement survey.

The budget focuses on treating education holistically, without any segmentation from pre-nursery to class 12. The government also aims at digitizing education and using technology as the biggest driver in improving the quality of education, by turning ‘black boards into digital boards’. Technology will also be used to upgrade teacher skills through the recently launched digital portal known as ‘Diksha’.

The improvement in quality of teachers can inherently improve the quality of education in the country. Hence, the government has decided to initiate an integrated B.Ed Program for teachers. Training teachers during their employment is extremely critical. The Right to Education Act has been positively amended to enable around 13 lakh untrained teachers to get trained.

The center has decided to start ‘Ekalavya’ schools for the ST population. By 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population, that has a sum of at least 20,000 tribal people, will receive ‘Ekalavya model residential schools, which are at par with Navodhaya Vidhyalayas. These schools will also help preserve the art and culture of the tribal population.

In the segment of Higher Education, the budget has pushed for research in technical and medical education. The government has set aside 1 lakh crore for the next 4 years to help in funding institutions of higher education, and setting up RISE- Revitalizing of Infrastructure and system of Education by the year 2022. The Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative. They plan to set up 4 new medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading district level ones.

They have proposed to set up two full-fledged schools of Planning and Architecture, in addition to 18 new SPAs that would be established in IITs and NITs as autonomous schools, on challenge mode.

Apart from this, in an incentive to retain the best technical minds, a Prime Minister Research Fellowship will be launched for 1000 best B.Tech students in the country who will be provided the facilities to complete PH.D in IIT and IISc.

In the words of Ratnesh Kumar Jha, MD, Cambridge University Press, “This is a balanced budget as far as education is concerned. While on the one hand, the government has rightly focused on improving educational infrastructure in the country, there is also a strong intent 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 programs”.

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