The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget for the 2024-25 financial year on February 1. From boosting funds for AI-based technologies and prioritising funding in school infrastructure to reducing the GST slab on educational products and services and the need to augment existing space institutes and the establishment of new ones, the education sector has high hopes for the upcoming budget 2024-25.
Budget 2024: Focus on school infrastructure, reduce taxes
Gautam Rajgarhia, Pro-Vice Chairman, Delhi Public School noted that there is inadequate infrastructure in rural schools. Essential facilities like clean toilets, libraries, science laboratories, digital facilities and sports equipment are lacking. The budget, Rajgarhia added, should prioritise funding for these amenities, ensuring a safe and conducive learning environment for every child.
Physics Wallah (PW) co-founder Prateek Maheshwari opines the enhancement of digital infrastructure to increase accessibility and facilitate the seamless implementation of learning solutions for children in the remotest corners of the country who seek access to high-quality online content.
“As per the recent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), more than half of the youths aged 14 to 18 in rural India still struggle to solve basic division problems and lack access to digital tools and skills. Bridging this gap requires a robust digital infrastructure.”
He further said the GST slab on educational products and services must be reduced to ease the financial burden on parents and promote affordability. Maheshwari focused on the need for collaboration between the public and private sectors to drive a change in the sector at scale.
Budget 2024: Focus on space, AI
AI-based technology has been a major driver in recent months and the trend will only accelerate, the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Hyderabad said adding that a call for heavy investments, a progressive policy framework, and increased R&D expenditure is needed for India to catch up with the world in these areas. The government’s role is pivotal in fostering an ecosystem that fuels AI innovation, bringing academia, industry, NGOs, and government departments together. As we envision a future powered by AI, India’s investment must not only be monetary but also strategic, facilitating collaborative synergies for a thriving ecosystem.
Strategic funding should support AI-driven educational models, digital infrastructure, and AI literacy, Vineet Nayar, former CEO of HCL Technologies and Founder and chairman of Sampark Foundation said. Such initiatives, he added, must extend beyond conventional classrooms, ensuring equitable access across socio-economic strata.
“Investments in AI research, especially in educational applications, are vital. Collaboration between educational institutions and industry can accelerate AI solutions for educational needs. Teacher training in AI, developing AI-enabled learning tools, and democratising technology access are essential for an AI-ready generation,” Nayar said adding that the Union Budget 2024 should not only increase allocation but strategically channel resources for AI embedding in education. This step will realize NEP’s vision and prepare India for an AI-dominated future, balancing technological advancement with social sector imperatives.
Fund for start-up
Prof Thillai Rajan A, IIT Madras is looking forward to a slew of booster measures in the 2024 budget that bring back the winds to the sails of the start-up ecosystem.
Reiterating that there have been very few comparable initiatives in independent India that have galvanised so many departments and ministries of the Indian government, the IIT Madras professor said: “More than ₹20,00,000 crore has been invested in start-ups in the country. However, since the high peak of 2021, the number of start-ups created has been gradually declining. As somebody who is keenly following the contribution of the start-ups, I look forward to a slew of booster measures in this Budget that brings back the winds to the sails of the Start-up ecosystem.”