Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam has announced that over 15,000 schools would be qualitatively strengthened under National Education Policy (NEP). This budget is significant as it is expected to revive the economy of the country which has been adversely affected due to COVID-19. Almost all the sectors have been affected due to the pandemic. However, out of all, perhaps, the education sector faced major challenges as schools and colleges were shut down since March 2020.
While presenting her third Union Budget post COVID-19 she also added that about 100 new Sainik Schools will be made and other ‘umbrella’ structures will be created for higher education that will allow for better “synergy” between them.
She further added that under NEP 2020, centers will be set up for higher education in Ladakh and also proposed to set up a central university in the union territory. A budget outlay of Rs 35, 219 crores for the post-matric scholarship scheme for 4 crore Scheduled Caste students till 2025- 26 is also proposed during the budget speech.
The legislation will also be done to introduce the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) this year. Around 750 Eklavya Model Residential Schools will be set up in tribal areas. The government will also increase allocation for the unit cost of each Eklavya school from Rs 20 crores to Rs 38 crore. Furthermore, the budget allocation for schools in hilly areas for tribal students has been increased to 48 crores.
Not only this but under NEP 2020 changes have been done in the policies for the upcoming teachers and teacher education. Those aspiring to be recruited as a teacher requires a minimum of 4-year Bachelor of Education by 2030 and the authorities will ensure that the teacher recruitment process made is transparent.
Last year’s budget rested on six pillars: health & well-being, physical & financial capital & infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation & R&D, Minimum Govt & Maximum Governance. However, the situation has changed in a year drastically due to the coronavirus pandemic which forced schools to shut down and ought to online learning methods.
For the Union Budget 2020-21, the total budget estimate for the education sector was Rs 99,300, including both higher and lower education. This year, there has been an increase of just 4.96% over the previous year’s budget for allocation. The smallest increase in five years.