India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharam presented the government’s Union Budget for the country on 1st February. While a few things continue to be unchanged, many changes have been brought by the government in various sectors of the economy. Although the budget is having a mixed review by experts, one thing is clearly evident, which is that the government has stressed greatly on the use of technology to foster the country’s economic growth. Right from putting drones to use for agricultural purposes to promoting the One Class-One TV channel programme, the Indian government seems to be all set for exploiting the potential of technology to its fullest. This is especially going to benefit the education and employment sector of India.
The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the traditional way in which India imparted education. It compelled educational institutions to formulate newer ways of teaching taking the help of technology and other digital platforms and devices. The government seems to have given serious thought to the same. While presenting the Union Budget, FM spoke of setting up a digital university to make world-class, universal and quality education easily accessible to the country’s students.
Nirmala Sitharaman said, “A digital university will be established to provide access to world-class quality universal education with a personalised learning experience to students across the country at their doorsteps.”
The new digital university is going to adopt the networked hub and spoke model. Under this model, a centralised ‘hub’ will be entrusted with generating knowledge and making it available in different Indian languages. The hubs will also be expected to build “cutting edge Information and Communication Technology expertise”. These ‘hubs’ refer to India’s renowned public universities and institutions. ‘Spokes’, on the other hand, refers to each student who will receive and consume knowledge offered by the hubs via a digital medium and their homes.
India, being a country having the largest number of youth, needs to focus on providing quality, affordable and easily accessible education for all. A majority of students in India shift to cities and even different countries to pursue quality education. However, not all can afford to shift to different cities and countries given the financial constraints. The setting up of a digital university, thus, will decentralize education in India.
Other than the announcement of the setting up a digital university, the FM also made other crucial announcements related to the education sector.
Her other one of major education-related announcements includes the launching of the One-Class-One-TV Channel programme of PM eVIDYA. This aims to provide supplementary education for classes 1-12 to those students who missed out on 2 years of formal education and schooling due to the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. A total of 200 TV channels will be set up through which education will be offered in regional languages.
“In vocational courses, to promote crucial critical thinking skills, to give space for creativity, 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics, and 75 skilling e-labs for a simulated learning environment, will be set up in 2022-23. High-quality e-content in all spoken languages will be developed for delivery via the internet, mobile phones, TV and radio through Digital Teachers. A competitive mechanism for the development of quality e-content by the teachers will be set up to empower and equip them with digital tools of teaching and facilitate better learning outcomes,” the finance minister said.
Internet, mobile phones, tv radio and digital teachers will be used to deliver high-quality e-content in all spoken languages to facilitate better learning outcomes.
Further, 5 academic institutions focusing on urban planning are set to be made centres of excellence. Rs 250 crores are allocated to each institution as an endowment. Agricultural universities will also be revising their syllabi to educate about modern-day farming promote the practice of the same.
The government is also focusing on reorienting skilling programs. The ITIs will build courses on skilling. The Digital DESH e-portal is entrusted with introducing skilling, upskilling & reskilling of the youth.
Keeping in view the newest emerging technologies which are holding the potential to create sufficient employment for the youth, FM also spoke of setting up of animation, visual effects, gaming and comics promotion task force which will boost the growth of the animation and gaming sector in the country. The centre will be set up in association with the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay with the purpose of supporting skilled manpower in the animation and VFX sector.
A total of Rs 1,04,278 crore has been allocated to the education sector in this year’s union budget for FY 2022-23. Last FY of 2021-22, Rs 93,224 crore was allocated to the sector which was Rs 11,054 crore lower than the amount allocated to the education sector in this financial year.
With the current plans made by the government to boost and improve the quality of education in the country, the future of the Indian education system seems to be digitally bright.