Budget 2018: Emphasis on up-gradation of infrastructure, research and technology

With a moderate increase in the budget outlay for the education sector in annual budget 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed to revitalize education infrastructure and opening schools for the ST populations as well as promoting programmes for teachers to improve the quality of education in the country.

The finance minister proposed to identify 1,000 best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions and provide them the facilities to do Ph.D. in IITs and IISc Bangalore, under the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF). The Government in the Budget 2018-19 has announced to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12.

Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech, also proposed to set up two new full-fledged Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) and eighteen new Schools of Planning and Architecture will also be set up in the IITs and NITs. In this year’s Budget, the allocation for health, education and social security has increased to Rs 1.38 lakh crore from Rs 1.22 lakh crore in current fiscal.

Higher Education and Research

Though this year the government has not announced to set up any new Central University, IIT or IIM, contrary to the expansion higher education has been witnessing in past few years, it has proposed consolidation and improvement in the quality of existing infrastructure. The Budget 2018 seeks to provide Rs. 1,00,000 crore in next four years for improving higher education and research.

“To step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions, I propose to launch a major initiative named ‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’ with a total investment of Rs. 1,00,000 crore in next four years. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative,” Jaitley announced.

The Government would launch the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)’ Scheme this year. Under this, it would identify 1,000 best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions and provide them the facilities to do Ph.D. in IITs and IISc, with a handsome fellowship. It is expected that these bright young fellows would voluntarily commit few hours every week for teaching in higher educational institutions.

Model Schools for tribal children

The Budget also proposes to increase the number of Ekalavya schools across the country by opening these schools at the block level, with the population of ST over 50 percent. The Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) programme was launched in the year 2010 with the objective to help Schedule Tribes (ST) students in remote areas, not only to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional education courses and as jobs in government and public and private sectors but also to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non ST population.

Integrated B.Ed and Technology upgradation

For improving the quality of teachers Arun Jaitley has announced that an integrated B.Ed. Programme for teachers will be initiated.

“Training of teachers during service is extremely critical. We have amended the Right to Education Act to enable more than 13 lakh untrained teachers to get trained. We have managed to get children to School but the quality of education is still a cause of serious concern. We have now defined learning outcomes and National Survey of more than 20 lakh children has been conducted to assess the status on the ground. This will help in devising a district-wise strategy for improving quality of education. We now propose to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12,” Jaitley said.

Highlighting the role of technology in addressing several challenges in the education sector, Finance Minister said, “Technology will be the biggest driver in improving the quality of education. We propose to increase the digital intensity in education and move gradually from ‘black board’ to ‘digital board’. Technology will also be used to upgrade the skills of teachers through the recently

launched digital portal ‘DIKSHA’.”

He further added that the Government has taken a major initiative of setting up Institutes of Eminence. He added, “There has been a tremendous response to this initiative by institutions both in public and private sectors. We have received more than 100 applications. We have also taken steps to set up a specialized Railways University at Vadodara.”

The Union Budget also proposed to set up two new full-fledged Schools of Planning and Architecture, to be selected on challenge mode. Additionally, 18 new SPAs would be established in the IITs and NITs as autonomous Schools, also on challenge mode.