Education Budget 2023 Wishlist: Tax Cut, ‘Internationalisation’, ‘Digital Library Ecosystem’, M

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New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget 2023-24 on February 1. The education sector has high expectations from this year’s Union Budget. In an exclusive interview to ABP Live, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Professor M Jagadesh Kumar said last week the budget allocation is expected to be higher than last year, adding that education is one of the most important sectors and the government is paying serious attention to it.

EdTech start-ups and other private establishments working in the field of education are also looking forward to the Union Budget with a lot of hope. 

Sam Oommen, MD of ETS India, which owns the TOEFL & GRE General Test, said India is fast becoming a talent pool for the world, driven by a young demographic.

“The Government aspires to have 25% of the global workforce to be Indian by 2047 and therefore early-stage exposure to Internationalization is key to meeting this objective. The Union Budget 2023 outlay must provision for ‘Internationalization’ at State and Central Government Universities, while also making India a destination for foreign students. Exchange programmes between global institutions and Indian universities will augur well for learners who are presently devoid of international exposure.” he said in a statement.

Ratnesh Jha, the chief executive officer of Burlington English, an AIdriven English language learning platform, said: “The Indian subcontinent in the 21st Century is emerging to be a human skill factory for the world.” He said a robust provision to digitise the educational grassroots, and to identify the communication dividend ruling our population should be the next big step. The linguistic demography of India is a unique and exciting trump card and if played well, expert English language augmentation to the native speeches can give the nation a fair lead this century, Jha said.

Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability

Tarun Arora, the CEO and founder of digital library platform Knimbus, is of the opinion that the there should be a digital library ecosystem working in tandem with the digital universities being planned by the government.

“The Budget of 2023 comes nearly in tandem with the rollout of the New National Education Policy, and therefore the Government will be using this opportunity to accelerate some of the foundational principles of NEP 2020 which are Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability. Given that digitaldriven access is the key theme of NEP 2020, (the) government should encourage the setting up of a digital library ecosystem that can work in conjunction with the digital universities that are being planned. Such digital content repositories will not just aid learners, but also support institutions and educators with classroom learning giving ease of access to curated and authentic content.

According to Roopali Mehra, the founder of Mytransform, an AI-based digital platform for career awareness in youth, the government’s focus on career awareness should reflect in the Union Budget 2023.   

“Education allocation in Union Budgets have conventionally steered towards brick and mortar set-ups designed to impact classroom learning and teaching. In the NEP year, given the strong focus of digital to drive both reach and equity, Govt. must focus on career awareness to drive employability. About 50% of India’s population is below 25 years and for this segment to make India a talent powerhouse, it must have the right tools for informed career decision-making and engagement. Provisioning such tools, albeit with a public-private partnership model, within an institution will enable informed decision-making skills in youth. We look forward to a budget outlay that focuses on building a career-ready generation along with strong education/skill credentials,” she said. 

Anish Srikrishna, the CEO of TimesPro, a learning platform for education and skills training, expects a considerable tax cut on educational programmes.

“In the Indian Higher Education and H.EdTech sector, affordability and accessibility are critical factors. We anticipate that taxes on educational programmes will be reduced significantly from the current 18%. This will ease the burden of millions of learners seeking a better future through skilling and upskilling programmes, thereby influencing employability and employment, he said.

Batting for more private participation, Srikrishna added: “We hope that the government will encourage greater private participation in its digitization efforts, especially where it concerns professional learning and skill-based education. I am sure our regulators will consider involving private participation to drive reach and engagement, to ultimately grow the GER to NEP target of 50% and of course drive improved learning outcomes. The proposed Digital Universities can be a great force multiplier in this mission and we look forward to an enhanced role for private H.Edtech firms here.” 

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