India’s Budget 2023-24 has seen the highest allocation for education in the country’s post-Independent history, Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan, declared.
The total allocation for education accounts to INR1.12 lakh crore (£11.2 billion), with the Ministry of Education spending INR44,000 crore (£4.4 billion) on Higher Education alone.
The budget also includes spending by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Space, on skilling and education.
Minister Pradhan highlighted the government’s responsibility to make education qualitative, accessible, affordable, and equitable. This objective will be achieved through cooperation between the central and state governments, local language education, and the use of technology.
The budget also emphasizes research and development and entrepreneurship, while having a strong focus on digitising education.
The Digital India programme has received INR4,795 crore (£470,000) in the 2023-24 budget. Proposals include the creation of Digital Libraries and Digital Universities to boost digital infrastructure. The libraries will be set up for children and adolescents to provide access to a large collection of books, with states urged to set up physical libraries at the panchayat level to access the National Digital Library resources.
Digital Universities are intended to reach remote regions and provide skill-based and job-oriented training. Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), and Central Universities will be hired to set up the university and offer popular courses through recorded lectures from professors. The hope is that digital education will increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio of the country, making education more accessible.
However, there are challenges to digital education. Prof. Manoj Sinha of Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, has noted that the quality of digital education will only be known once it is implemented.
Prof. Sinha also mentioned that while the new generation may adapt easily to digital education, staff and teachers will need training, and digital libraries may lack classic books that are not available online.