Thought Habitat is seeing a complete inflow of budget expectations from various business leaders. On the other hand, we also had some entrepreneurs sharing their expectations on the 2022 budget. Lavin Mirchandani, Co-Founder of ConnectEd Technologies was one among them.
Did the budget meet the expectations of Lavin Mirchandani? Let us see below.
In comparison to 2021, India is in a much better state to handle the upcoming wave of Covid-19 cases. A majority of the sectors have recovered and are now back on track for rapid growth. One sector, however, has seen the slowest recovery – the Education sector, with students still unable to attend school physically and unable to get vaccinated, either. We expect the Government to shift a lot of focus to the Education sector in this version of the budget in the following ways:
Higher allocation in the overall budget – Last year, the Government slashed its allocation towards Education in the Annual Budget by 6%, amounting to a total allocation of Rs. 93,223 crores, against Rs. 99,311 crores in the year before that. This year, we expect the Government to increase allocation by around 10% since last year the 6% slash was attributed to funds allocation towards healthcare and other emergency services
Reducing the digital divide – We expect this year’s Education budget to focus on reducing the digital divide, which has kept a significant number of students – that rely on the country’s public education system and belong to challenged socio-economic backgrounds – from accessing education during the pandemic. We have already seen states like Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat provide devices and connectivity to needy students for free, or with heavy subsidies; we expect the Central Government to address this issue to ensure that students can resume classes virtually
Reduced GST rates – The pandemic’s impact on the education system, particularly the public education system, has increased the reliance of all students on supplementary sources of education that are provided by private organizations. Traditionally, such sources have been categorized under ‘Educational Services’ and taxed at 18% under Goods & Services Tax (GST). We expect the Government to revise the GST rate for this category to 5%, thereby easing the financial pressure on the students’ parents, particularly those from lower and middle-class families
Partner with private companies – Given the utility of education-technology (EdTech) tools during the pandemic, we expect the Government to announce a host of schemes this year to make EdTech tools accessible to students across the country. These schemes could pertain to Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), subsidies, or Direct Bank Transfers (DBT) to enable citizens to procure devices, connectivity, and even subscription to educational services that’ll enable them to garner knowledge amidst closure of their educational institutions
Focus on vernacular languages – Since a significant number of students relying on the public education system learn in vernacular languages – which are largely ignored by private EdTech players – it is quite likely that the Education budget will observe the Government mobilizing resources towards the creation or curation of regional-language educational content that’ll be aimed at such students. Efforts in this direction have already been initiated over the last few years, however, they are likely to receive a shot in the arm this year
I believe that these key features if addressed in the upcoming budget, will help India’s education system get back on track to recovery and help students continue their education even if they are unable to visit their schools till the students get fully vaccinated.
Right to Education was adopted by the Government of India a long time ago. With Budget 2022, we see the government providing students with Right to Quality Education. We are particularly ecstatic to note that the Government seeks to take fibre-based internet connection to every village in India by 2023 and expand its ‘One Class, One Channel’ program, as it will enable under-served students in Bharat to access quality education; much like their privileged counterparts across India.
Creation of quality vernacular educational content is an extremely resource intensive task, which has kept most EdTech players from serving students reliant on India’s public education system. We have been involved in this space for the last 6 years, and warmly welcome the government’s foray into this space, as providing quality educational content in local languages to these students is a job no single entity can manage. We hope to work alongside the government and announcements made today to usher in an age where students across India are equipped to contribute to the India growth story, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds.
Well, we see the expectations of Lavin Mirchandani and the actual outcome was more or less similar. Most importantly, the edtech industry had a lot to gain from. Therefore, companies like ConnectEd will thrive well in the coming days.