The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a covenant between the government and the children of the country. The policy must catalyze the community to view education as a shared asset, an instrument for accelerating skill, character building, human capital formation, and an end in fulfillment and sustainability.
Good execution is key to the success of any strategy. A critical ingredient of any ambitious national vision lies in adequate funding. In this context, the finance minister’s presentation of the union budget on February 1, 2021, raises high expectations and legitimate anxieties. Government at this juncture is under severe pressure owing to Covid-19 related losses in economy, health and education. A delicate balancing act to meet the demands of competing sectors is the real test. To give a thrust to Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, a pro-agriculture budget and a strengthened defence eco-system is additional challenge.
Coming to education, the government has to take some bold steps. Enhancing allocations to a minimum of six per cent of GDP at the current level will signal the government’s commitment to bring education to the next level. However, the education budget is not about this alone. The rollout of the policy requires many enablers. Supplementary allocation to bring over 200 million children between 3 to 6 years within formal schooling entailing new schools, teachers, mid-day meals, and learning materials require priority.
NEP 2020 envisions setting up school standards, developing teachers’ professional development, new assessment paradigms, and enhancing enrolment in senior secondary and higher education. These must get budgetary push. For learning to be at the optimal level, we must ensure children’s balanced growth meeting the challenges of malnutrition and stunted growth. Integrating physical well-being, nutrition-efficiency, and emotional health with quality education calls for a budgetary boost in the