Union Budget 2023-24: How allocations towards education will contribute to development of adolescents in India
Leveraging the private and development sectors and use of technology will help in bringing together the required resources for empowering adolescents with necessary skills. This will improve access to information and increase choices for adolescents for their career progression
Alok Vajpeyi Last Updated:February 06, 2023 13:14:17 IST
Representational Image. News18
The Union Budget, 2023-24 presented by the Finance Minister in Lok Sabha on February 1, has rightly called the education and skilling as the growth drivers for inclusive development. An empowered and inclusive economy is not possible without educating and skilling of large young population in the country.
The world’s largest adolescent and youth population is in India. While world population is growing older with higher dependency ratio, India has a window of opportunity and will continue to enjoy for some time a distinct advantage of having younger population, which will influence country’s development, economic and social investment decisions, to come along with the rising aspirations of young people.
It is therefore by investing in adolescents and youths through quality education and skilling that they can realise their potential, fulfil their aspirations, join the work force and contribute to India’s economic growth. The demographic dividend is nurtured and reaped only when the youth are invested in with education, have the professional skills which are in demand, and have access to healthcare and other services so that they can look after themselves and their families.
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The budget allocation for the Ministry of Education for 2023-24 is ₹1,12,898.97 crores, the highest ever allocation granted to the ministry so far. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has received a total budget of Rs 3,517.31 crores which has gone up from last year’s budget of Rs 2,999 crores. Out of total budget, Rs 2,278.37 crores has been allocated for the Skill India program. The additional allocations for education, skill development, and employment opportunities in the budget will lead to empowerment of young people to realise their full potential.
The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 emphasizes on the development of the creative potential of each individual, in all its richness and complexity. This is based on the principle that education must develop not only cognitive skills – both ‘foundational skills’ of literacy and numeracy and ‘higher-order’ cognitive skills such as critical thinking and problem solving – but also social and emotional skills, including cultural awareness and empathy, perseverance and grit, teamwork, leadership, communication, among others and importantly vocational skills. The goal of National Education Policy is to create holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with key 21st-century skills.
Foundational literacy and access to education provided through skilled teachers has been highlighted as a priority in the NEP 2020, for India to effectively prepare its growing young population for the future. The Finance Minister’s emphasis on revamping teachers’ training through District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) as centre of excellence is a step in the right direction. The Finance Minister also proposed a National Digital Library to make quality books and reading materials available for children, as well as physical libraries at panchayat and ward levels. Much will depend upon how state governments implement this programme, particularly in rural areas, where accessing the library might be constrained by low digital literacy, gender-based digital divide and insufficient access as well as connectivity to digital devices. The teacher recruitment and training, along with increased access to books and material to children across the country through the National Digital Library will go a long way, especially in mitigating the learning loss in the wake of the pandemic.
The budget has also proposed recruiting more than 38,000 teachers and support staff in next three years in 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools serving approximately 3.5 lakhs tribal students. These teachers will be trained through innovative pedagogy, curriculum transaction, continuous professional development and information and communication technology (ICT) implementation. The NGOs that work in education and with the communities should be roped in these programmes.
The government will be setting up 157 new nursing colleges in co-location with existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014. Starting of 157 nursing colleges will fill the shortage of skilled healthcare workers in the country. However, the government will have to ensure availability of trained teachers in the nursing colleges on a priority basis.
Skill education is the highlight of the budget, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing the launch of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0. PMKVY aims to skill youth in the next three years on new-age subjects such as coding, AI, robotics, 3D printing, and drones and soft skills, setting-up of 30 Skill India International Centres across the country, and providing stipend support to youth through the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme, which could provide young people with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in the 21st century. A unified Skill India Digital platform is also being launched to enable demand-based formal skilling, linking with employers including MSMEs, and facilitating access to entrepreneurship schemes. These initiatives are aligned with the vision of the National Education Policy, 2020 to develop needed skills in students at all levels.
Adolescents as the adults of tomorrow hold the key to the country’s future. In the early adolescent years, schooling is a major concern, but beyond the age of 14 years, skilling and employability takes the driver’s seat. Leveraging the private and development sectors and use of technology will help in bringing together the required resources for empowering adolescents with necessary skills. This will improve access to information and increase choices for adolescents for their career progression. The 2023-24 Union budget addresses the urgency to shift the policy focus towards enabling adolescent development. Investing in their development and well-being will determine the trajectory that the nation will take in the coming years, and these are crucial years.
The author is Lead – Knowledge Management and Core Grants, at Population Foundation of India. Views expressed are personal.