India’s edtech sector, which has been buffeted by headwinds over the past few months, has high expectations from the Interim Budget 2024. Industry people hope that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will announcefiscal policies and strategic measures that could very well reshape its trajectory, which has seen a southward movement in terms of funding and interest from investors and its customers alike.
For starters, they hope that the administration will reduce the GST on educational products and servicesfrom 18 per cent to 5 per cent, which will make digital learning more accessible and inclusive for students from the marginalised section. Their plea comes at a time when the government is actively advocating the advancements of education and promoting multimodal learningthrough policies like the National Education Policy (NEP), which will plug the widening digital divide in the country’s education landscape.
Many believe that the current high tax slab is hindering the democratization of education and impeding research and development in the sector. Prateek Maheshwari, co-chair of India Edtech Consortium (IEC) and co-founder of Physics Wallah stated, “Driving a change to ensure affordable and quality education at scale needs more collaboration for public and private sectors. For this, reducing the GST on educational services would also remove financial strain on parents, promoting affordability.”
Edtech startups have been asserting that as digital learning grows, the sector will need more support in terms of government subsidy for R&D and other strategic initiatives. Pratham Barot, CEO and co-founder of Zell Education, opined that a dedicated fund of funds can play a major role in catalysing transformative growth.
Moreover, financial incentives, research grants, tax benefits and government backed accelerator programs could help founders build on the latest technologies to offer innovative solutions that can keep pace with changing industry dynamics.Rohit Gupta, co-founder of College Vidya said, “We are hoping for measures like financial incentives, research grants as it is needed to push the adoption of cutting-edge educational technologies, essential for fostering innovation in edtech.”
While online higher education is now accessible to people from various socio-economic backgrounds in the country, across urban and rural areas, the government needs to invest in the sector to ensure that it transcends geographic and socio-economic barriers. Siddharth Banerjee, CEO of Univo Education advocates reducing subsidising interest rates on educational loans to boost the literacy ratio and accelerate quality education for all.
The edtech sector hopes for the budget to recognise the importance of digital education and to roll out strategic measures for its growth in the country. The sector also collectively lays emphasis on upskilling youth to increase employability after education through schemes like Skill India Mission.