The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the economy hard. GDP fell sharply when lockdowns restricted activities. The nation is currently looking forward to February 1, when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget 2021. Everyone from large corporates to small businesses to the common man waits with bated breath to see the changes the budget brings with it, hoping for a better and secured future. Along with other vital sectors, education too needs the Central Government support on Union Budget 2021. Last year, the education sector witnessed a key development in the form of National Education Policy 2020, (NEP) which was unveiled to bring reforms. However, the implementation of NEP 2020 requires an increase in spending on education. The Finance Minister may make substantial announcements in this regard in the upcoming budget session. We all know the education system needs major improvement for better future of students across the nation. From online teaching to better school infrastructure, here are five things the Indian education sector needs.

1. Online Teaching: We have to witness a huge transformation in the education system in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a real need for implementing technology in education. Teachers and students require quality access with affordability, which can be solved by leveraging technology.

“Online Teaching and Learning is a new reality, and very many organizations have invested time, money, and resources to deliver quality education to students: the government should take cognizance of this fact and must reduce the GST on online education service from the present 18 percent to 5 percent in Budget 2021, this will make online education accessible to more and more students,” Sudhir Sharma, Member of Advisory Council, Association of Indian Schools was quoted in Financial Express.

2. National Education Policy 2020: The education policy suggests increasing the spending on education from en percent of total government expenditure to 20 percent by 2030. Educational experts are of the opinion that the more spending on the education program, the more we will be able to produce a skilled workforce for the betterment of the country. The Union Budget 2021 is expected to give guidelines on the NEP implementation plan and further strengthen the focus and investment in Edu-tech to enhance experiential and immersive learning.

3. Better School Infrastructure: There is no denying how significant a school is in shaping up a student’s personality and holistic learning process. In many schools, especially those located in rural areas, suffer from having adequate facilities. Spacious and well-ventilated classrooms, libraries, playgrounds, well-equipped labs, classroom essentials, electricity, assembly area, study halls, well-maintained sanitation facilities—these components make an ideal checklist while assessing any school infrastructure.

4. Rural, Primary Education: The pandemic has not only affected the health of our nation, but also left millions of students struggling to cope up with their education. The impact has been particularly severe on the rural population. In rural areas, students do not have access to the internet and rely heavily on government schools. “The mid-day meal program and the inoculation drive has been disrupted and as a result our students find themselves not only missing out on their education but also their health and nutritional needs. The higher education on the other hand faced disruptions due to delays in results, competitive exams and the admissions process thereof. The students who were lucky enough and had the resources could start their degrees in the month of December but a large chunk of students have had to take a gap year,” Prateek Kanwal, Co-Founder of Kautilya School of Public Policy was quoted saying in Financial Express.

5. Tax-Free Education: Many students take a loan to pay their tuition and hostel fee. Many a time, banks are slow to disburse the loan and even reject applications on fragile ground. Students thus are not able to pay their tuition fee on time and even find it difficult to take admission. Education experts are of the opinion that in the upcoming budget, the central government must reduce the 85 percent expenditure limit to get tax exemption to 75 percent. The additional ten percent can be invested in a fund specially created for educational institutions.

These are some of the expectations that education experts are looking forward to the Union Budget 2021. Funds that meet the modern-day needs of virtual learning, better infrastructure, and financial support can better the education sector.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 27, 2021 06:49 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website