Budget for skills and digital education
The budget rightly allocates an increased allocation to education as it strives to achieve the vision of NEP-2020 and Digital India Mission
Education is a key factor in the economic growth and prosperity of any country. Skilled, innovative and specialized human capital, combined with technological innovations, propels the economy by causing greater job creation and increased productivity. The 2022 budget had education as a priority area and was marked by allocating a record amount of Rs 1,04,278 crore to education for 2022-23, with a jump of 11.86% from the previous budget. allocation of Rs 93,224 crore in 2021-22. . This progressive budget, with a digital push, has been widely hailed by educators as it strives to achieve the National Education Policy (NEP-2020) vision and Digital India mission in strengthening education online and training young people. With a strong digital education network, inclusiveness as well as accessibility to quality education nationwide can be ensured.
Digital education, with the integration of ever-changing technology with powerful electronic content materials, has made teaching highly innovative, motivating, interactive and engaging. In the 21st century, where our life and work activities are dominated by digitalization, digital education methodologies must enable the acquisition of cognitive skills according to the needs of learners. Their knowledge and skills will increase with a variety of interesting electronic materials.
Like other countries, India has faced disruptions in traditional classroom teachings due to the closure of educational institutions over the past couple of years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To minimize the loss of offline teaching and maintain a regular academic schedule, schools and higher education institutions across the country have shifted to online teaching, learning, and assessment mode marked by heavy use of online platforms and electronic content. All stakeholders in the education sector realized the potential of e-learning during the pandemic and got used to it.
A robust digital infrastructure across the country, coupled with the availability of a variety of online programs for learners, will significantly contribute to achieving 50% GER in higher education by 2035, as planned in NEP-2020 . The budget emphasizes digital learning and proposes to develop e-content for school children and to expand the “One Classroom TV Channel” program to 200 TV channels in regional languages under the PM e-vidya program. This will ensure the provision of high quality educational materials to schoolchildren coming from all sections, especially those from public schools, rural areas and disadvantaged sections where good internet connectivity is always an issue.
Education in regional languages will improve literacy in rural India which accounts for nearly 65% of the total population. In the long term, this will lead to a technology-enhanced transformation in the socio-economic scenario of the country. The budget focuses on creating a job-centric education ecosystem with the launch of a digital skills platform DESH-Stack, an electronic portal for the training, development and retraining of young people through online training . This is a welcome initiative to meet the requirements of employment sectors.
The talent needs of industry and other sectors can only be met by training young people in the respective fields. The move to align the National Skills Qualifications Framework with demand from industries will inspire young people to upskill regularly and keep them always competent and relevant as professionals matching the demands of jobs in these changing times. Also, according to the budget, to promote skills among young people, ITIs will be tasked with taking new skills courses to promote skills as well as critical thinking.
Aligning with the Digital India mission to transform the nation into a digital society and knowledge economy, the budget proposes to establish a Digital University, which will be a hub university in digital mode to provide world-class quality education to students from all over the world. the country. The university will offer a hub and spoke model where, from a centralized ‘hub’, online teaching materials will be accessible from different ‘spokes’ across the country. The best universities in the country will collaborate with the digital university. Students from remote areas will be able to have access to quality online education in different Indian languages at their doorstep.
In the digital age, where education is not confined to classrooms and textbooks, digital learning with powerful e-content in Indian languages will boost enrollment in school and higher education. It will democratize education by extending its reach to all sections of society, closing existing gaps and paving the way for building a vibrant knowledge economy. The budget proposals to educate young people and digitally boost education are fully aligned with the NEP-2020 vision and the UN SDGs to make high-quality education accessible to all.
(The author is the Vice Chancellor of Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar. Opinions expressed are personal.)