Edtech players are of the view that this Union Budget 2022 should pay increased attention to implementing NEP 2020
Like every other sector, the Edtech sector has also been equally vocal in stating their expectations from the Union Budget 2022. While mentioning their views on the budget allocations to the education sector, Edtech players have also said the the Indian Government needs to now focus on implementing the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), which has been a “non-starter” so far.
Nitin Potdar, Partner, J Sagar Associates (JSA), said: “As far as the education sector is concerned now that we have brought a well-drafted national education policy of 2020 (NEP 2020), we need a road map of 10 years that will articulate the way forward for the implementation of NEP 2020. We need a very strong budget for this and we cannot ignore or just say that look we don’t have the budget. We will have to cut down other expenses but provide enough money for the education budget because that is where the future lies in India. Secondly, in this 10-year road map, I think urgently what is required is allowing foreign universities to collaborate with Indian universities and technical institutions. This is required and this is required not only for upskilling our students and our employees, but also we must create an India as a destination where foreign students come and start learning here because of the cost factor; we need to leverage on the cost factor of India. Education in Europe and USA is so expensive, so why could we not attract foreign students to come to India that is when the exchange of students exchange of teachers exchange of institutions will happen, exchange of knowledge would happen. That is where we would be able to bank upon the young population of the country. Just by merely saying that India is a young country we are not achieving anything unless we create and we offer them opportunities to learn, opportunities to grow in the right direction, our NEP is not going to be successful. So, I repeat we need a 10-year strong robust road map for NEP 2020 with a good budget and dedicated team for implementation. NEP 2020 is a nonstarter without a strong road map of ten years for implementation and with enough budget.”
Similar views were also echoed by Rajeev Tiwari, co-founder, STEMROBO Technologies who said that although the unveiling of the NEP 2020 framework has taken place but the implementation of National education policy 2020 and schemes should be on the lines of Ayushman Bharat, and more concrete measures and an incentive system is the need of hour.
“In the year 2021, the education sector was allotted Rs 93,224 crore, with Rs 54,873 crore going to school education and literacy and Rs 38,350 crore going to higher education. With a population of 600 million, India’s youth account for more than half of the country’s population, and the sheer volume of announcements in the education sector underscored the sector’s importance in defining the country’s future. This year it seems more likely for allocation to cross the 100,000 crore mark as the pandemic has further accelerated the need for a greater allocation for Building Innovation Ecosystem in Indian Educational Institutes and Enhancing Teachers Capacity, and to provide greater accessibility to students in far-flung areas.
A cut in the tax rate would be most welcomed from the government side and it would be a great relief for the parents paying the tuition fees. This conundrum, which has arisen as a result of the pandemic in children’s learning stages, can be resolved by continuing to use educational technologies and implementing new approaches to satisfy the demands of parents and students. Our expectation is that the Union Budget should further drive policies around Innovation, Creativity and Experiential Learning. NITI Aayog’s flagship Project Atal Tinkering Labs which was setup in 2016 has been making a great impact in this regard, the need is to further strengthen this project and link it learning outcomes in STEM, Experiential Learning, AI and Coding,” he said.
Tiwari went on to add that since the pandemic’s peak, almost 200 million children have missed a full year of formal schooling as a result of the lockdown. “This scenario is exacerbated in India’s smaller towns and cities, where even low-cost private institutions have struggled to deliver the necessary online education. This is due to a lack of technological infrastructure in schools and teachers who are underprepared so the emphasis should be on programmes to improve Internet connectivity infrastructure across the country, ensuring last-mile connectivity, inexpensive 5G devices, and, most crucially, assisting e-learning players with a solid e-learning infrastructure,” he added.
Furthermore, he opined that reduction in the tax rate for ed-tech businesses might give even more momentum and encourage further investment, as the current GST rate of 18% is posing a barrier to these new businesses reaching their full potential. Lowering it to around 5% will do the good.
“At the K-12 level, the emphasis in education delivery for the government sector has typically been on quantity, improving education scope, and spreading. However, there appears to be an increasing need for Indian students to organize themselves and take their global companionship seriously. To do this, we must incorporate Technology-Oriented Curriculum Delivery, which is based on technique and pedagogy aligned with the demands of 21st Century Skills, into our education delivery for K-12 students and schools. In order to address these concerns, Budget 2022 should allow for improved accentuation and discretionary designation,” said Tiwari.
Apart from NEP 2020 Implementation, 6 Reforms Needed in the Education Sector
Sumeet Jain, co-founder, Yocket is hoping for the following 6 reforms in the Indian education sector:
Implementation of ed-tech policies for all the students and edtech companies
Self-regulation is the need right now. Ed-tech is still in its nascent stage and any policies which are not able to evolve well with the industry would be disastrous. Govt regulation at this stage might not be the best thing, but the industry together should have some self-regulation which can build trust for the whole industry.
Moratorium on Education loan
Education loan in India has seen a lot of NPAs. This has majorly happened in the domestic sector and banks have bled. For international education, the new-age NBFCs have done very well. Most of the students who are going for higher education abroad are doing so on education loans and they have done well. With very low NPAs in this sector, the government needs to ensure that loans above 20Ls also come under priority. The Government could also provide some interest waiver (or subsidy) schemes which can provide more access to students for funds.
Scholarships for higher education
Many bright students are not able to pursue higher education because of a lack of funds. We certainly need more scholarships or innovative ways to finance education. We are losing out on a lot of good aspiring students giving up because of a lack of funds. There should be a good amount of scholarships (or interest-free loans) for foreign education as well. A well-planned scheme can go a long way in getting a huge population to compete on a global level. We already have Indian origin CEOs at many of the global MNCs. We can have many more if we can make foreign education more accessible for deserving students.
GST reduction in online courses
We expect to reduce GST on all education courses as it will be very helpful to make education more accessible from 18% to at least 5%. This can help a long way in reducing the prices of the courses. Higher education needs to be more accessible and affordable, and the government should do whatever it can to get this adoption to increase.
Expectations regarding the startup sector
Startups are no longer fringe but we still have a long way to go. The government should provide some benefits to encourage startups. We are seeing many young people willing to risk their jobs and take the plunge. The ease to start, to raise funds and to also promote on a global level. The Government should also provide some tax benefits to startups.
Building Innovation Ecosystem In Indian Educational Institutes
We need to encourage our students to look beyond just exams. We will need to foster more innovation. That can happen when we have more research happening. Where the students have the option to work deeply in any subject. The budgets for research has to increase manyfold if we want to see innovation come out of Indian Educational Institutes. We can’t expect to see innovation if the focus is only on exams.