The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 1 February 2018 presented the Union Budget 2018 in the parliament. In the independent India, this will be the 88th budget and the fifth of the Modi Sarkar.
This year's budget session is crucial as it comes after government's two big financial decisions - demonetisation and the implementation of Goods and Services Tax. It will be also NDA government's last full budget presentation before next year's Lok Sabha elections.
The Budget 2018 has identified the Education sector as one of the key drivers of the economy. Accordingly, Arun Jaitley announced following initiatives:
• The government has allocated an amount worth Rs 9975 crore for National Social Assistance Programme this year.
• Budget 2018 proposes to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12.
• To improve the quality of teachers and education, the government would be initiating an integrated B.Ed. programme for the teachers.
• The government has amended the Right to Education Act to enable more than 13 lakh untrained teachers to get trained.
• The government has also proposed to increase the digital intensity in education and move gradually from ‘'black board’’ to ‘‘digital board’’.
• Technology will also be used to upgrade the skills of teachers through the recently launched digital portal ‘‘DIKSHA’’.
• To provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment, it has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School.
• Ekalavya schools will be on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.
• The government has also proposed to launch a major initiative named ‘‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’’ with a total investment of Rs 1, 00,000 crore in next four years. Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative.
• The government is also planning to set up a specialised Railways University at Vadodara.
• The government has also proposed to set up two new full-fledged schools of Planning and Architecture, to be selected on challenge mode.
• Additionally, 18 new schools of Planning and Architecture would be established in the IITs and NITs as autonomous Schools, also on challenge mode.
• Lastly, the government would launch the ‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)’ Scheme this year.
• Under the scheme, the government would identify 1,000 best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions and provide them facilities to do Ph.D in IITs and IISc, with a handsome fellowship. It is expected that these bright young fellows would voluntarily commit few hours every week for teaching in higher educational institutions.