The Union Budget 2023-24 has witnessed a surge in allocation for education. The highest allocation ever, it has earmarked a total of ₹1.12 lakh crore to the Ministry of Education. This is a 13 per cent increase from FY23’s revised allocation of ₹0.99 lakh crore.

While ₹68,804.85 crore has been allocated for school education and literacy, the Department of Higher Education gets ₹44,094.62 crore. In FY23, these departments received ₹59,052.78 crore and ₹40828.35 crore, respectively. While the National Education Policy 2020 seeks to spend 6 per cent of the GDP on education, the budget is yet to see that level of allocation, despite a hike. 

Research and more

While presenting the budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala announced that 157 new nursing colleges will be established in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges, which have been established since 2014. She also said that the facilities in select ICMR Labs will be made available for research by public and private medical college faculty and private sector R&D teams for encouraging collaborative research and innovation.

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In terms of research, she said that dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices will be supported in existing institutions to ensure the availability of skilled manpower.

“Teachers’ training will be re-envisioned through innovative pedagogy, curriculum transaction, continuous professional development, dipstick surveys, and ICT implementation. The District Institutes of Education and Training will be developed as vibrant institutes of excellence for this purpose,” she said.

Future ‘read’y

Another major announcement for the sector was the setting up of a National Digital Library for children and adolescents, which will have books across geographies, languages, genres and levels, and device-agnostic accessibility. “States will be encouraged to set up physical libraries for them at panchayat and ward levels and provide infrastructure for accessing the National Digital Library resources,” the Minister said.

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“Additionally, to build a culture of reading and to make up for pandemic-time learning loss, the National Book Trust, Children’s Book Trust, and other sources will be encouraged to provide and replenish non-curricular titles in regional languages and English to these physical libraries. Collaboration with NGOs that work in literacy will also be a part of this initiative. To inculcate financial literacy, financial sector regulators and organisations will be encouraged to provide age-appropriate reading material to these libraries,” she added.