Representational image| PTI
Representational image| PTI

Union Budget 2023-24: Need more spending on technology, education loans, say experts

The Union Budget 2023-24 will be presented on February 1, Wednesday. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will deliver the budget speech in Parliament

Ahead of the Union Budget 2023 session on February 1, 2023, education experts point out that certain areas of the education sector need to be given more importance and allocation. To recall, in 2022-23, the budget allocation towards the education sector was only 2.6 per cent of the total funding.

Education experts state that the entire education scenario is likely to change with the introduction of new technological innovations such as ChatGPT and so on. "It is necessary to reskill students and prepare them for this kind of future. At least five to six per cent of the GDP should be spent on education," said Jayaprakash Gandhi, an education expert.

He also emphasised that the government should allocate a budget to set up skill labs for use of advanced technology in government institutions. "Most institutions are moving to hybrid learning. Spending on online learning must be increased. Additionally, regulations must be brought to give education loans for online learning," he said.

A few experts state that not much can be expected from the Union Budget. "One can’t expect much from the Union Budget for the higher education sector. It lacks the financial muscle to make any significant change. Total receipts of the government, excluding borrowings, for 2022-23 is estimated to be around Rs 23 lakh crore and expenditure around Rs 39 lakh crore. But, the government does have the intent to make significant changes. This adequately reflects through the policy changes and the rapid increases in the number of seats for admission," said Dr VP Singh, Professor of Economics, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon.

He added that the major spending has to come from the private sector. "Good B-Schools generally receive not less than 5,000 applications against say 240 seat availability, implying a demand of more than 20 times the available supply. With such supply, the higher education market is certainly a sellers' market," he said.

However, a few industry stakeholders are expecting to see an increase in allocation to at least six per cent of the total Central government's budget for the education sector. "Although the Right to Education (RTE) was enacted in 2009, responses in Lok Sabha show that compliance to the act is only 25 per cent at the national level and falls down to 3.1 per cent in a few states," said Niranjanaradhya VP, another education expert. He lamented that the implementation of the act has not met the basic standards in the last 12 years. "One of the requirements of the act is to provide two teachers for students studying in Classes I to V. They are not able to provide this and this is required for quality education," he added.

If the budget sees an increase in the allocation for the education sector, it will help with better and more effective implementation of the RTE and fulfilment of certain progressive provisions of the new National Education Policy (NEP), the expert added.

The Union Budget 2023-24 will be presented on February 1, Wednesday. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will deliver the budget speech in Parliament. This will be the last full budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government before the next general elections are held in 2024.