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'India's primary education needs a boost in the upcoming budget'

Dr Shadashive Gowda and Vivek Tuteja
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Dr Shadashive Gowda and Vivek Tuteja

Highlights

In the interim budget for 2019-2020, the union government had allocated Rs 93,847.64 crore for the education sector

In the interim budget for 2019-2020, the union government had allocated Rs 93,847.64 crore for the education sector. The expectations of the sector in 2021 is of major reforms since it went through upheavals last year, owing to the pandemic.

"Indian Budget 2021 comes at the anvil of COVID led lockdown dismantling years of effort to create a business ecosystem followed by a renewed effort to create a fresh ecosystem on the existing framework in a completely new environment with new Norms. Education will see the government pushing NEP roll out and incentivize ed-tech. The Government should not let this go of this opportunity and push larger public-private partnerships in both education and healthcare and create incentives to drive CSR Budgets in this direction," said Vivek Tuteja, Chairman and mentor, Endeavor Careers.

Tuteja opined that middle class has been hoping for tax breaks and this year might be the year for the government to do some overhaul providing much-needed relief to the taxpayer's pocket and further intensive being rolled out for home buying and /or long-term saving instruments.

Quoting a private survey, Dr Shadashive Gowda, PhD(IISc), Educationalist and Principal Vidyavardaka College of Engineering, Mysuru told The Hans India that about half the students in government schools fail to comprehend a simple text.

"There are also instances of students who fail to do rudimentary arithmetic even in the 8th grade. In the absence of a comprehensive action plan for the complex Indian school education system, which are divided by multiple boards of unequal standards and the benefits of technology will be acquired by a section of teachers and students that can adapt and afford it," he said.

Gowda pointed out that though state governments are the largest providers of education, they are plagued by several challenges including large student teacher ratios, infrastructure and lack of quality training amongst teachers. He elaborated on the huge digital divide in urban and rural schools.

"Private schools too face a problem with teacher training. There is a huge digital divide in urban and rural schools. In a recent survey, over 75 per cent of students are impacted due to the lockdown as they found it hard to study online, over 80 per cent students said they need hand holding to shift from offline to online and over 25 per cent said they need proper training to pursue education through online.

This is still a dream for the majority of students in India. Most of the parents in India cannot afford OTT platforms for their wards to study. However, a concerted effort can mitigate many problems. The pandemic has forced the BPL families to send their kids to work as they couldn't afford the resources to manage online classes. The Govt should increase its spending on Digital education and help the less privileged with tools and training to continue learning," he opined.

Gowda lamented that adaption to online education is easier for English medium students and teachers due to the ready availability of tools or content, however, the situation is opposite in vernacular languages that dominate the Indian school education scene.

"Expanding availability of textbooks to all, including those who dropped out or are waiting to be formally admitted, will help parents and siblings aid learning. Bridging the divide on educational aids, now including smartphones, will enable transmission of learning materials, and personal tutorial sessions. Beyond these basics, however, the education system could creatively use opportunities during the current year to broaden learning," he remarked.

Director Indian Institute of Fashion and Animation ( IIFA International College), Yogesh J remarked that the Primary education Infrastructure should be improved and the entire approach towards education needs an overhaul.

"The focus should be on learning skills and not grades. The budget should allocate more funds towards proper sanitation facilities in the school and proper monitoring of all the funds that are being spent should be done. The teachers should be trained not just to teach one's students but also help them read. We always expect the Government to do everything but all of us have a role to play in society and the Government must increase the overall spending on Education and create a system which is at par with most of the western counterparts. We should emphasize on skill based learning," he explained.

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