In the Budget 2020-21 for Maharashtra scheduled to be presented on March 6th, the government should prioritise education sector reforms over all its other programmes for socio-economic development of the state, say top industry experts.
Enhancing focus on improving education infrastructure is of paramount importance as Maharashtra is the financial capital of India, contributing around 15 percent to the country’s GDP. Hence, the state will have a crucial contribution in enabling India to expand to a 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024-25.
Typically, Maharashtra’s education sector gets around 18-19 percent share of the total allocation of its annual Budget. This aid provided to each sector is a widely debated matter about the Budget every year as the execution of the government’s plans and proposals for sectoral reforms including the education sector is closely linked to the size of this budgetary support. The education sector has also been demanding a higher share of the budgetary allocation.
According to Mr. Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman, Ampersand Group, the Maharashtra government should consider adopting a three-pronged strategy for overall improvement in the state’s education system in this year’s Budget, which will also enable optimal utilisation of the available resources.
“Firstly, The Maharashtra government needs to look at enhanced Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to improve pre-school and early childcare centres in the state. PPPs have been widely successful in the transformation of Anganwadis and Balwadis in Maharashtra, which are run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development,” he said.
Secondly, Mr. Kerawalla said, “The government needs to outsource ground-level monitoring of education outcome to credible third-party sources, which will enable it to focus on governance than management.”
The third step is, he added, “Migrating reporting of achievements at the ground-level to online technology platforms hosted by credible third-party service providers, which will lead to more effective and transparent monitoring of education outcomes.”
Mr. Kerawalla pointed out that adopting these three measures will enable the government to make better decisions about distributing government aid to reward successes and better identify the problem areas in education delivery to the masses.
He also emphasised on the need for the Budget to focus on plans to leverage new technologies such as the Internet and Cloud technologies to deliver education, skill development, and advisory support to backward and underprivileged sections of the society in areas where education infrastructure is poor or missing.
Virtual education, adopting the direct benefit transfers (DBT) framework for direct transfer of grants and aids for education to beneficiaries and online consultancy and advisory services to tribal people are some of the initiatives which the government must consider implementing to improve infrastructure and delivery of education, and reach a wider base of stakeholders.
This year’s Budget for Maharashtra would be the first under the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri. Uddhav Thackeray and all hopes will be pinned on new initiatives that will enable further development of the state.