Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam presented the Government Union Budget for the country on February 1. Although some things remain unchanged, many changes have been made by the government in various sectors of the economy. Although the budget has received mixed reviews from pundits, one thing is clearly evident and that is that the government has placed a lot of emphasis on using technology to help the country’s economic growth. From using drones for agricultural purposes to promoting the One Class-One TV program, the Indian government seems poised to harness the technology’s potential to the fullest. This will particularly benefit the education and employment sector in India.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed India’s traditional way of delivering education. This has compelled educational institutions to formulate new teaching methods relying on technology and other digital platforms and devices. The government seems to have given it serious thought. During the presentation of the Union budget, FM spoke of the creation of a digital university to make world-class, universal and quality education easily accessible to students in the country.
Nirmala Sitharaman said, “A digital university will be established to provide access to world-class quality universal education with personalized learning experience to students across the country at their doorstep.
The new digital university will adopt the networked hub and spoke model. According to this model, a centralized “hub” will be responsible for generating knowledge and making it available in different Indian languages. The hubs are also expected to develop “cutting edge expertise in information and communication technologies”. These “hubs” refer to renowned universities and public institutions in India. The “spokes”, on the other hand, refer to each student who will receive and consume the knowledge offered by the poles via a digital medium and their homes.
India, being a country with the highest number of young people, needs to focus on providing quality, affordable and easily accessible education for all. A majority of students in India move to cities and even to different countries to pursue quality education. However, not all of them can afford to move to different cities and countries given the financial constraints. The establishment of a digital university will thus decentralize education in India.
Apart from announcing the creation of a digital university, the FM also made other crucial announcements related to the education sector.
His other major education-related announcement includes the launch of PM eVIDYA’s One-Class-One-TV Channel program. This aims to provide additional education for grades 1-12 for students who have missed 2 years of formal education and schooling due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. A total of 200 television channels will be created through which education will be offered in the regional languages.
“In vocational streams, to promote crucial critical thinking skills, to give space to creativity, 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics, and 75 e-labs of skills for a simulated learning environment, will be put in place in 2022-23. High-quality electronic content in all spoken languages will be developed for distribution via the Internet, mobile phones, television and radio through Digital Teachers. A competitive mechanism for the development of quality e-content by teachers will be put in place to empower and equip them with digital teaching tools and facilitate better learning outcomes,” the Minister of Finance said.
Internet, mobile phones, television, radio and digital teachers will be used to deliver high quality electronic content in all spoken languages to facilitate better learning outcomes.
In addition, 5 academic institutions specializing in urban planning should become centers of excellence. Rs 250 crores is allocated to each institution as an endowment. Agricultural universities will also revise their curricula to educate about modern agriculture and promote the practice of it.
The government is also focusing on reorienting training programs. ITIs will build skills courses. The Digital DESH e-portal is responsible for introducing youth skills, upskilling and retraining.
Keeping in mind the latest emerging technologies that have the potential to create enough jobs for young people, FM also talked about the creation of a working group on animation, visual effects, games and comics. which will drive the growth of the animation and games sector in the country. The center will be established in association with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay with the aim of supporting skilled manpower in the animation and visual effects sector.
A total of Rs 1,04,278 crore has been allocated to the education sector in this year’s union budget for the financial year 2022-23. In the last financial year 2021-2022, Rs 93,224 crore was allocated to the sector, which was Rs 11,054 crore less than the amount allocated to the education sector in this financial year.
With the current government plans to boost and improve the quality of education in the country, the future of the Indian education system looks to be numerically bright.