Pre-budget expectations: Union Budget 2019
Education & skill development
Transforming education and skill development should be the key focus in the budget
Transforming the Education and Skill Development sectors should be the key policy direction in the upcoming budget. With the changing landscape of manufacturing and services owing to industry 4.0 and increasing automation using cognitive technologies, the expertise and skill requirement has evolved. The global trends in education is about lifelong learning and upskilling / reskilling so that the workforce is aligned to the market needs. As part of the transformation, the education and skill development sectors should be enabled to make the required changes so that the persons coming out of the system are not only employable but also adaptable to changes that the disruptions in technology and marketplaces bring their way. The key changes required in the respective sectors are as follows:
The findings of the recent Annual Survey of Education report 2018 has highlighted that most students are not able to read or do basic math as expected at their level, implying that the quality of teaching and the learning ecosystem needs significant improvement. The recent removal of the no detention clause in Right to Education Act is a step in the right direction.
In the interim budget, the outlay for the National Education Mission has been increased by over 19% to around INR 38,500 crs, with most of the allocation earmarked for centrally sponsored schemes in school education. The current allocation is less than 3% of the GDP, which is low as compared to developed countries where it is usually ranges between 5% and 7% of the GDP. There is a need to increase the allocation along with the following key measures that need to be undertaken:
- Teacher/ faculty training with an aim to develop and build capacity for addressing the current learning needs of students; ability to use modern tools and pedagogy to drive conceptual learning;
- Improving facilities in institutions through setting up smart classrooms, modern laboratories, research facilities, libraries, etc.
- Introducing mandatory student counselling with trained counsellors who will be able to advise the students and their parents on career options and choices based on the students’ demonstrated aptitude and influence students to take up vocational training courses
- Provide options for pursuing vocational training post middle school (class 8) with defined course curriculum and apprenticeship arrangements with local industries in line with the model followed in countries like Germany
- In higher education, the course curriculum should be restructured to facilitate multi-disciplinary and research-oriented learning with foundations built for lifelong learning. This will prepare the students with the capability to continuously update their expertise based on the ever changing workplace demands
Skill Development/ Vocation training
In line with the changing industrial and services landscape, one’s skills need to be fungible. Skill development in the country needs transformation to address the industry requirements with mechanisms for upskilling and reskilling. Key measures that need to be facilitated through the budget include the following:
- Skilling courses should be aligned to the industry requirement with standardised course curriculum followed by all vocational training institutes in both public and private sectors. The courses should be in line with that developed by the concerned sector skill councils as per the National Skill Qualification framework along with the required facilities in terms of tool rooms, laboratories, etc.
- While guidelines for setting up skill universities in partnership with states have been published, there is a need to ensure that standardised course curriculum is followed so that graduating students are employable not only across the country but around the globe in line with making India the skill capital of the world
- The model of community colleges, successfully established by NGOs in partnerships with local industry in certain states needs to be replicated across the country so that the required multi-disciplinary skills are taught increasing the employability of the students
- While industries have allocated a significant part of their CSR spend on setting up/ sponsoring vocational training institutes, they should also be encouraged to sponsor trainers/ teachers in the vocational training sector. There is a current dearth of quality teachers/ trainers which impact the learning by student. Such sponsorship will encourage suitable candidates to consider vocational training as a viable career option and will significantly improve the quality of training.
The above measures will play a key role in transforming our skills and expertise base and align it with industry’s current and future needs. With India’s aspirations to be among the top 5 economies in the world and to fuel its planned economic growth rates, the time for action is now.