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Union Budget
Union Budget 2018 and its implications on the education sector: Key highlights and reactions
In his budget speech finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the budget allocation has an outlay of Rs 81,868 crore for education which, about a 4 per cent hike.

Furthermore, the current rate of 3 per cent education and health cess has been raised to 4 per cent to collect Rs 11,000 crore per annum from the taxpayers.

"The low hike in educational budget allocation means that there is going to be more privatization of education along with the digitization and centralisation of education system. This would give a setback to the education for the poor and those residing in the remote and inaccessible areas. The shrinking fiscal space of the government in the social sectors of education and health will hit hard the poor and low middle class population of the country," said a Jaipur-based educator working with an educational NGO.

Moreover, for digital education push, Budget 2018 promises an allocation of Rs 250 crore for the establishment of the world class institutions for the spread of digital education. The existing government education system will be reformed and made efficient to cut down the system running expenses through the processes of education-integration and better fiscal discipline.

Some of the key high points of finance minister's budget speech while on education, as I could gather, were as follows:

-Treating education holistically without segmentation from pre-school to Class XII.

-Furthering the scope of the scheme of Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education or RISE by restructuring the higher education financing agency (HEFA).

-Revitalizing the infrastructure of higher educational institutions.

-Setting up a chain of special schools for tribal students.

-Cutting down allocations for schemes of Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

-Reducing the budgets for IITs, IIMs and the University Grants Commission.

To me, it seems that the integrating of various centrally sponsored schemes of education to universalize education up to school level is in the offing. Also, it looks like that the institutionalized higher education is going to be more expensive and going to get more exclusive. It implies that the focus will shift to open education on-line and digital education.

I fear that it will give rise to on-line coaching centres by the coaching industry since most educational reforms in the government sector have failed in the past due to poor implementation. Moreover, the privatization of higher education and school education with will flourish in the years to come.

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