Budget 2019 expectations: Eliminate shortage of teachers; reduce GST on digital education, demand edutech startups
Budget 2019: Various online learning platforms have gained prominence in the last few years but there have been issues that are plaguing the sector.
Budget 2019: Fund allocated to the education sector in the Budget has always been under scanner. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had allocated Rs 85,010 crore for the sector in the Budget 2018. The government has been running various schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). The FM had announced a new scheme called Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education or RISE in Budget 2018. Then there was Higher Education Financing Agency for financing creation of capital assets in premier educational institutions. However, no substantial changes have taken place so far in the education sector.
However, the digital learning has been on a rise in the country courtesy edutech startups. Various online learning platforms have gained prominence in the last few years but there have been issues that are plaguing the sector.
Vishal Khatter, founder of edutech startup Genius Corner says schools are struggling with the deficit of teachers. In a recent survey of Gujarat Education department, It is found that 12000 schools are run by just one or two teachers.
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"The need of the hour is to resolve the problem of huge shortage of teachers by technology-based Personalized learning in school. Personalized learnings have made Coaching/Tuition very affordable to students of Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and even to Economic Weaker sections of society. The government needs to provide encouragement by allocating budget on the technology-based learning within the schools. It could also be done by integrating online learning curriculum within the Regular curriculum," said Khatter.
He said that government should design reforms for improving government school infrastructures like computer labs, Internet connectivity, smart equipment to enable e-governance in School and Educational Institutes.
Khatter said that besides rationalising the GST rate on digital learning, the government should formulate policies in the budget 2019 to allocate funds on the Technology-based.
"The government should formulate policies in the budget 2019 to allocate funds on the Technology-based student Personalized Learning, Digital learning facility for pedagogy, school diagnostic assessments and other Technology products, thus making students and Schools future-ready," he said.
At present, there is a GST of 18% on digital learning. Shobhit Bhatnagar, co-founder, Gradeup, seconded the idea of making GST rate affordable for the online learning.
"In a country with over 200 million students, online education can play a major role in improving learning outcomes at a large scale. The government needs to actively support early-stage industries like ed-tech that can create impact at scale. Today, the GST rate for all educational services outside of schools & colleges is 18%, which is same rate bracket as discretionary items such as perfumes, chocolates etc. The government should move educational services to a no GST or the 5% slab," said Bhatnagar.
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Higher fund allocation for the education sector in Budget does make sense for a country which aims to be a superpower in the coming years. India's literacy rate was around 74% according to 2011 census data. A higher budget will allow the sector to expand outreach and eliminate the shortage of teachers in the schools.