A skill development push through participation of private sector is one of the key expectations of the education sector from this year's budget.
To address the gap between the skills that industry requires and the prospective employees possess, industry experts are of the view that skill building should be aided by the private sector.
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Vidya Mahambare, Associate professor of Economics at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai said that the budget needs to focus on 'education and skills' if we are to ready India's youth for the future job market.
She added that the Centre needs to pull together different agencies currently working towards this and devise an effective strategy to incentivise state governments to reforms their education system at all-levels.
Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation said that there are strong expectations that the forthcoming budget will start to address the gap between job growth and economic growth. "I expect this budget to be execution focused towards scaling up skilling programs through PPP involvement, training and assisting small and medium enterprises ( SMEs), and embracing entrepreneurship," he said.
Affordable education is also one of the key areas where the industry is seeking some reforms. Ninad Karpe, MD and CEO, Aptech Ltd.said that millions of students in India who cannot pursue higher/vocational education due to lack of finance is a matter of grave concern, and a major obstacle in fully harnessing the potential of young population of the country.
Karpe said that the government should create a credit guarantee fund similar to one created for MSME sector in India. "With this trust, banks can finance education loans without any collateral from students. For rural students, banks should offer loans at concessional rate and with 100 per cent guarantee from the trust. Also, in case of default, the trust will need to pay 75 per cent of the loan to banks," he added.
Pre-school education is another area where gross enrolment ratio is an area of concern. KVS Seshasai, Chief Executive Officer, Zee Learn Limited (Kidzee, Mount Litera Zee School and Mount Litera School International) said that there is an urgent need to improve India's Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) across Preschool and K-12 Schools and also improve student retention.
"One of the ways of doing so is by incentivising private sector participation which will ensure higher investments that can build best in class Early Childhood Learning as well as K-12 learning infrastructure not just in larger cities but across the country," he said.
A key expectation from 2015 budget for the education sector will be to ensure collaboration between private and public sector by introducing streamlined and well thought out policies. This would position India as a country of world class education from Preschool and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) to Higher learning.
The education sector is also seeks some tax rebates and an easier approval process for greater involvement of the private sector in education to drive enrolment rates as well as high quality education across the country.
Seshasai added that the government should encourage more private participation of corporate and individuals in skill development area through tax subsidies in initial few years. He said that there should be more allocation of funds for teacher training as the industry is facing a severe crunch of trained teachers.
Getting foreign educational institutes to open campuses in India has been a long-drawn demand even as the Bill is yet to be passed in the Parliament. Shantanu Prakash, CMD, Educomp Solutions said that allowing infusion of private capital in education that will facilitate capacity enhancement, setting up of quality educational institutes commensurate with demand.
He added that allowing foreign education institutes to open in India, since it will definitely boost the education sector in India. "We could perhaps create a gradual door opening strategy to allow Indian institutions a transition period to compete so that the fears of a flight of students to foreign universities are quelled," he said.