Has Budget 2015 Shifted Focus to Higher Education?
The Union Budget of 2015-16 of the present government was presented by the Hon’ble Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha on 28 February. There was a clear indication of the focus being shifted to the higher education from school level in the national budget as the higher education budget has been increased to Rs 26,855.26 crore under the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry from Rs 23,700 crore in 2014-15. Budget allocation of the school sector has been decreased to 10%, whereas the higher education sector has seen nearly 22% increase.
According to Narayanan Ramaswamy, partner and head education practice at consulting firm KPMG, “It seems the central government wants to focus more on higher education and try to target 30 million near-productive population in higher educational institutes”. He also added, “These people, unless attended too well, may shift their base out of India and impact the economy”.
The changes in tax laws and other initiatives will see an upliftment which will promote the education system in the next coming years. Not only this, the budget for 2015-16 has already laid the momentum for further reforms.
Setting Up of Top Institutes All Over India
As this year’s budget has witnessed the shift of focus to higher education, the Finance Minister has announced the establishment of some major institutes all over the country.
- Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad will be upgraded to IIT which was providing admission to the students along with the IITs through the joint entrance exam system. One IIT will come up in Karnataka also.
- Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir will be getting two IIMs.
- In Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Bihar, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will be established.
- National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research will be set up in the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
- The proposal for the National Institute of Speech and Hearing has been made to be upgraded to the University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation.
- Amritsar will get a Post Graduate Institute of Horticulture Research and Education.
- The Institute of Science and Education Research will be established in Nagaland and Odisha.
- A Centre for Film Production Animation and Training has been initiated to be established in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Haryana and Uttarakhand will get an Apprenticeship Training Institute for Women.
A total IT-based Student Financial Aid Authority would be established which would deal with the allotment of educational loans. This is a very good initiative from the Government to take the education a step further. The organisation will also supervise scholarships for the students from poor and middle class backgrounds who want to continue higher education. Jaitley also said that no student should miss higher education and his government will ensure this firmly.
Ravi Mahajan, a partner with consulting firm EY India said, “The setting up of additional central education institutes such as IITs, AIIMs, IIMs combined with financial aid under the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram will not only benefit the young population of the country, which wants better education, but will also benefit India Inc. as the quality of our work force will improve significantly with such measures”.
There are a few weaknesses which are noticeable although new proposals have been made for the upliftment of the education sector:
- Primary and secondary education have been less emphasised which can result in a weak foundation. It is not possible to take the education sector to the next level without a strong base.
- Funding of mid-day meal has been drastically slashed from Rs 1,296.5 crore last year to Rs 132 crore this year.
But no one can ignore the fact that there is a sincere and earnest effort from the government to provide quality education to everyone in the society. The fulfillment of the new policies in the new budget will definitely bring a positive change in the country’s education system which will benefit the whole country in the coming years.
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