Budget: Over 15k schools to be strengthened as per new NEP; board exam reforms from 2022-23 session

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) Strengthening of over 15,000 schools for effective implementation of the new National Education Policy, 750 new Eklavya model residential schools, 100 new Sainik schools and phase-wise reforming of CBSE board exams from 2022-23 session, are among the announcements made for the school education sector in the Union budget 2021-22 on Monday.

'More than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of the National Education Policy (NEP). They shall emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, handholding and mentoring other schools to achieve the ideals of the policy,' Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

'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. 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.

Making the 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 mother tongue or a regional language, are among the many school education reforms outlined in the new National Education Policy, which was announced last year. This is the first budget after the notification of NEP.

'A total of 100 new Sainik Schools will be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools and states,' Sitharaman said.

There are 30 Sainik Schools in India at present, established and managed by Sainik Schools Society under the Ministry of Defence.

The Ministry of Education's Department of School Education and Literacy will receive Rs 54,873.66 crore for the upcoming financial year as against Rs 59,845 crore last year.

The funds for Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) saw an increase as the KVs have been issued Rs 6,800 crore for the upcoming financial year as compared to Rs 5,516 crore last year.

The budget allocation to Navodaya Vidyalayas has been increased by Rs 500 crore. Last year, Rs 3,300 crore was allocated to Navodaya Vidyalayas, while for this year, the funds have been raised to Rs 3,800 crore.

The mid-day meal scheme saw an increase of Rs 500 crore as the total allocation has been raised to Rs 11,500 crore from Rs 11,000 last year.

'Standards will be developed for all school teachers in the form of National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST). This will enhance the capabilities of teachers and will be followed by all 92 lakh teachers of public and private school system in the country.

'During the year, despite COVID-19 pandemic, we have trained more than 30 lakh elementary school teachers digitally, covering the whole gamut of education. Taking this further, 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),' Sitharaman said.