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Govt allocates Rs 11,500 cr for mid-day meal scheme, 100 new Sainik Schools to be set up

The education ministry's Department of School Education and Literacy has been allotted Rs 54,873 crore in Budget 2021, a decrease compared to Rs 59,845 crore last year.

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New Delhi: Setting up a central university in Leh, 100 new Sainik schools and Higher Education Commission of India, increasing collaboration with foreign institutions, strengthening over 15,000 schools as per new NEP and reforms in board exams from 2022 are among the major announcements from the education sector in the Budget announced on Monday.

The Ministry of Education has been allocated a total of 93,224.31 crore this year. In 2020-21, it was allocated Rs 99,311.52 crore. The budget for last year was eventually revised to Rs 85,089.07 crore as the coronavirus pandemic hit the country and classes were ordered shut to prevent the spread of the virus.

“For accessible higher education in Ladakh, I propose to set up a Central University in Leh,” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech.

She said, “More than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of the National Education Policy. They shall emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, handholding and mentoring other schools to achieve the ideals of the Policy. 100 new Sainik Schools will be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools and states. 750 new Eklavya model residential schools will also be set up”.

“In Budget 2019-20, I had mentioned about the setting-up of Higher Education Commission of India. We would be introducing legislation this year to implement the same. It will be an umbrella body having 4 separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding.”

In the Budget, the blanket exemption in annual receipts for charitable trusts running educational institutions, has been increased from Rs 1 crore to 5 crore.

“We hope to reduce compliance burden on small charitable trusts running educational institutions and hospitals. So far, there is a blanket exemption to such entities, whose annual receipt does not exceed Rs 1 crore. I now propose to increase this amount to Rs 5 crore.

The finance minister noted that many Indian cities have various research institutions, universities and colleges supported by the Government of India like Hyderabad which has about 40 such major institutions.

“In nine such cities, we will create formal umbrella structures so that these institutions can have better synergy, while also retaining their internal autonomy. A Glue Grant will be set aside for this purpose,” Sitharaman said.

In order to promote enhanced academic collaboration with foreign higher educational institutions, the Budget has proposed to put in place a regulatory mechanism to permit dual degrees, joint degrees, twinning arrangements and other such mechanisms.

For children with hearing impairments, the government has proposed to work on standardization of Indian Sign language across the country and develop national and state curriculum materials for use by them.

“There are a number of senior and retired teachers. They will be used for individual mentoring of school teachers and educators through constant online and offline support on subjects, themes and pedagogy,” she said.

Sitharaman announced that the CBSE board exam reforms will be implemented from 2022-23 academic session in a phased manner.

The reforms were proposed in the new National Education Policy announced last year in which making board exams easy, reduction of curriculum to core concepts, replacement of 10+2 structure of school curricula with a 5+3+3+4 structure and teaching up to at least class 5 in the mother tongue or a regional language, were among the many school education reforms outlined.

“For the past few years our prime minister has been engaging with students every year before their Board Exams to help them overcome anxiety and stress. In this direction, we will introduce CBSE Board Exam reforms in a phased manner to be effective from the 2022-23 academic session,” she said.

She added, “Exams will move away from rote-learning and students shall be tested on their conceptual clarity, analytical skills and application of knowledge to real life situations.

“Students have so far been evaluated on unidimensional parameters. There will be a complete shift from using assessments to not only judge the cognitive levels of the learner, but also using it as an opportunity to identify the unique strengths and the potential of the child.

“To this effect, a holistic progress card is envisaged to provide students with valuable information on their strengths, areas of interest, needed areas of focus and thereby, helping them in making optimal career choices,” she added.

Noting that during the year, despite COVID-19 pandemic, more than 30 lakh elementary school teachers have been trained digitally, the finance minister said, “in 2021-22, we will enable the training of 56 lakh school teachers through the National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers for Holistic Advancement (NISTHA)”.

“In my Budget Speech of July 2019, I had announced the National Research Foundation. We have now worked out the modalities and the NRF outlay will be of 50,000 crores, over 5 years. It will ensure that the overall research ecosystem of the country is strengthened with focus on identified national-priority thrust areas,” Sitharaman said.

Also read: Modi govt’s plan for a Development Finance Institution will reduce infra burden on banks


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