Budget Reaction: Focus on quality in education good signal but more needs to be done 

02 February 2017 | Source: Economic Times
Economic Types

MUMBAI: The Budget proposed a slew of measures in education including reforms in UGC, introduction of system of measuring annual learning outcome in schools, leveraging information technology and launch of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOC platform SWAYAM with at least 350 online courses.

Experts said the focus on quality of education rather than quantity in secondary as well as higher education is welcome but given the state of education in the country much more needs to be done.

“It needs a bold innovative move like demonetisation. This budget is about incremental changes which are good but not good enough given the size and scale of the problem we face,” said Vineet Nayar, founder, Sampark Foundation.

He said he wished to see more measures from the government in the coming months, including investments in frugal innovation and ideas that helps ill-equipped teachers to deliver great learning outcomes.

The Budget proposed a system of measuring annual learning outcomes in schools with emphasis on science education and flexibility in curriculum to promote creativity through local innovative content. “This shift of evaluating quality of secondary education based on learning outcome, not input, will bring in more accountability,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, executive vice president, Teamlease Services.

In higher education, the government proposed reforms in the University Grants Commission and greater administrative and academic autonomy to good quality institutions.

“One big issue in education sector is autonomy which the government has promised to do. However, what the government has not addressed is jobs for the educated youngsters,” said TV Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Global Education Services.

Amitabh Jhingan, co-chair at industry lobby FICCI’s school education committee said one of the gaps is that the same autonomy should be extended to high-quality schools as well.

Hailing the proposal for Innovation Fund for Secondary Education, Jhingan said, “The innovation fund is a great proposal and so is greater autonomy for colleges. Today, a lot of the colleges are struggling on the front.”

Indranil Manna, director at IIT Kanpur, however, said some of the proposed initiatives need to be backed with a concrete plan and adequate financial commitments to be implemented properly.