Budget 2019 expectations: What Edtech startups want from Modi government
Budget 2019: In 2018, Arun Jaitley had announced a 10% hike in the budget as compared to the previous year. However, the allocations for the education saw a marginal increase of 3.84% from approximately Rs 81,869 crore to Rs 85,010 crore.
Budget 2019 demands: If we take a look at all the previous budgets, most of them have failed to live up to the expectations of the education industry. In 2018, Arun Jaitley had announced a 10% hike in the budget as compared to the previous year. However, the allocations for the education saw a marginal increase of 3.84% from approximately Rs 81,869 crore to Rs 85,010 crore. In fact, the government’s spending on education has declined sharply over the last two decades. Anil Nagar, Founder and CEO, Adda247, said that the government should look to reverse this trend.
"While the budget expenditure on education in other growing economics continues to rise, the scenario is quite the opposite in India. Speaking of the Union Budget 2019, the government should definitely focus on promoting the e-learning/digital learning space. For example, books (hard copy) are exempted from GST, but e-books have 5% GST. Moreover, 18% GST is levied on video tutorials and live courses, putting India’s EdTech industry in a challenging situation. In the upcoming budget, I hope the government addresses these issues," said Nagar.
Kamal Dutta, Managing Director India for Skillsoft, said that a country-wide enhancement in skills is required among professionals to remain relevant in today's dynamic jobs landscape and budget should focus on such reforms.
"While Budget 2018 did lay emphasis on the importance of digital, skill-based learning, significant steps towards implementation of initiatives set up by the government can be a highlight of Budget 2019. The digital revolution that took off in 2018 will likely gain further traction this year and the budget will likely be a provision for burgeoning interest in the uptake of digital skills. We believe that Budget 2019 will be conducive to setting up corporate learning systems within all workplaces and promote nation-wide skill enhancement among employees," said Dutta.
Ishan Gupta, MD, Udacity India, said that he is looking forward to budget to create more opportunities for the growth of edtech startups in the burgeoning digital education segment.
"According to Ernst & Young, a very large proportion of the Indian workforce will need re-skilling in the next few years i.e. over 40% by 2022. This will be a necessity in order to become capable of holding up gainful employment in the face of upcoming automation. Hope the budget focusses on creating a conducive environment for constant upskilling and reskilling," said Gupta.
Amol Arora, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools, said that the promise to boost education expenditure to 6% of GDP is still a distant dream and quality of education in schools and colleges is still a worry.
“In order to keep our children in the competition, we need to ramp up our Ed-Tech sector in the years to come. To that end, Budget 2019 should give certain tax breaks to Ed-Tech startups. The government should also grant financial incentives for organizations setting up educational institutes in rural and underserved areas,” Arora added.
Divya Jain, CEO and Founder, Safeducate, that she expects the government to take key steps in raising the quality of skills.
"The focus should be on integrating strategies to increase skilling outcomes and sustain economic growth. Current skill development initiatives should be integrated with nation-building mission programmes. As an oganization which provides skilling and get funded from the government to execute the Skilling programme, we seek some tax benefits," said Jain.
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Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO and Founder, NextEducation India, said that he expect the government to set aside a substantial amount in the budget for the education sector.
"The prerequisite for quality education becoming available to all is the free and easy access to quality e-learning resources. It is important to ensure that internet access provided to rural areas is functional so that students from those parts can use it for effective self-learning. Also, there is a dearth of 11 lakh adequately qualified teachers in the K–12 segments. This issue also needs prioritizing in the upcoming budget," said Ralhan.
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