Education Pundits reaction over Union Budget 2017

The Finance Ministry has released a Union Budget on 1st Feb, following are the reactions fro education experts:

Budget should emphasize on infra of Educational institutions:

Mrs Avani Oke, Principal, K.J.Somaiya School and College of Nursing

” I feel the budget should emphasize on basic infrastructure which is poor in most of the educational institutes and create a fund for research and online courses to ensure that education reaches to the poorest and remotest places in the best possible way.”

National Agency for Testing and Entrance Exams is a welcome initiative: Dr. Sanjay Dhande, Chief Mentor, Avantika University

Education is an important game changer in the coming decades for any society in general and the Indian society in particular when the number of young citizens of India is increasing so rapidly that both education and employment are going to be certain issues for this country. The budget indicates some very encouraging signs of change, in particular, the introduction of a National Agency for Testing and Entrance Exams is a welcome initiative – long overdue. It will reduce the burden of students. However, the present form of one single exam is not in-tune with the technology as well as the scientific developments happening in the field of testing. There are more than 200 agencies in the world which are developing better and newer concepts of testing, so this agency should not be a traditional bureaucratic agency but a modern and forward-looking agency.

 The announcement to develop a system for measuring learning at school level is indeed a welcome move. The emphasis on flexible curriculum and science education will require a very progressive school management and administration. The practice of measuring annual learning outcome in the education of backward blocks will also enable the society to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures undertaken by the government.

The other two important announcements of the budget concerning the autonomy as well as online courses are in-tune with the current discussion in the field of education. However, colleges and universities should be provided with the necessary guidance as to what to do once they get the autonomy. Also, the effectiveness of online courses is dependent on several details of pedagogy and assessment. In short, the devil is in the detail.

Finally, the discussion about separation of regular education and vocational training should not be treated separately. The fusion of vocational training in mainstream education is necessary. Hence, the investment in vocational training should be blended with the regular education of the student. The concept of innovation fund for secondary education is welcome. It should encourage young men and women to develop new techniques/applications which will help them effectively in their learning process.”

Statement on granting autonomy shows that Govt has its priorities right:By Vijay K Thadani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, NIIT Ltd.

 The Budget is directionally good in terms of its focus on quality. A specific statement on granting autonomy to higher education institutions based on performance shows that the government has its priorities right.

SWAYAM got a special mention as the latest digital initiative of the government. It shows the high priority that the government accords towards promoting technology-based learning.

A new initiative in higher education, announced by Mr. Jaitley, is setting of National Testing Agency which will handle all the entrance exams in higher education. This is a welcome step.

The additional focus on advanced skills development and preparing a global workforce through India International Skills Centres is a very welcome step. Moreover setting up of Digi Gaon will open new vistas for technology based education for our rural folks.

Government’s ongoing efforts at energizing the youth through education, skills and jobs: Dr. Devi Singh, Vice Chancellor, FLAME University

In the annual budget 2017-18 presented by the Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, on February 01, 2017, education seems to have received a considerably closer attention than usual which is an acknowledgement of Government’s ongoing efforts at energizing the youth through education, skills and jobs. In order for quality education to lead to good quality jobs, the Government has attempted to initiate necessary steps right through the educational continuum to enhance and maintain access, innovation, parity and quality- universally and equitably.

 The University Grants Commission (UGC) has finally received the attention that has been long overdue in terms of far reaching reforms in its structure, mandate and autonomy as an effective Higher Education regulator in the country.

Another remarkable step is the creation of a national testing agency as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher institutions. This, consequently, will free the nodal education bodies from the tedious and draggy administrative responsibilities and allow them to focus more on professional, quality and regulatory objectives and outcomes.

The hike of 9.9% in outlay to the Education sector for the financial year 2017-18 will notably help to accommodate and, bring to meaningful fruition, various ambitious plans of the government including the creation of new institutions of national importance and higher learning.

In what seems to be a highly progressive and novel idea is in the form of SWAYAM– a platform with 350 online courses which will not only enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty, but will also give them access to world class learning resources and opportunities for academic interaction.

Vocationalization of education has received  further fillip in the form of SANKALP-Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion program- with an outlay of 4000 crores aimed at providing market-relevant training to 3.5 crore youth. This will work intandem with STRIVE– Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement aimed at making ITIs more relevant to the skills requirements of the industrial and apprenticeship markets.

Finally, in an attempt to identify good quality institutions with international best practices in education sector, a revised framework will be put in place for outcome-based accreditations and credit-based programs. Institutions so identified are likely to enjoy greater administrative and academic autonomy to work towards enhancing their standing as institutions promoting innovation, creativity and world-class curriculum.

It is hoped that the above well-meaning and long overdue initiatives will receive adequate financial and administrative support from the government. If implemented sincerely it could provide the nation the terrific tandem of inspired goals of individual institutions and government’s vision of world class education.