01 Feb 2021: With eye on education, Sitharaman announces Central University, Sainik Schools
In her annual Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of education-related measures, like setting up a Central University in Leh and the establishment of 100 new Sainik Schools.
She also said that 15,000 schools will be strengthened under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. These institutions will be converted into "exemplar schools," she assured.
Here are more details.
Central University: India's 55th Central University to be set up in Leh
As of now, India has 54 Central Universities, making the new one in Leh the 55th one.
"For accessible higher education in Ladakh, I propose to set up a central university in Leh," the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said in the Parliament.
Notably, the Central University of Kashmir and the Central University of Jammu are the only two universities closest to Leh.
Details: Higher Education Commission of India will be established: Sitharaman
A Higher Education Commission of India, an umbrella body having four wings — standard-setting, regulation, accreditation, and funding — will be set up, the Finance Minister said.
This new body will replace existing ones like University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE).
A legislation would be introduced this year for the same.
Clusters: Nine cities to get 'higher education cluster' for better coordination
Sitharaman also proposed establishing "higher education clusters" in nine cities for better coordination.
Citing Hyderabad's example, which has 40 major institutions, she said each one can learn from another.
"In nine such cities, we will create formal umbrella structures so that these institutes can have better synergy, while also retaining their autonomy. A glue grant will be set aside for this purpose," she added.
Schools: Sainik Schools' network expanded, 100 new ones announced
100 Sainik Schools which Sitharaman proposed will be established with help from NGOs, private schools, and states.
This move will expand the prestigious network while splitting the cost between public and private sectors.
Moreover, the announcement of setting up more than 15,000 new schools will help in implementing NEP in a phased manner. These schools will serve as a model for others.
Money: Budget for Ministry of Education reduced by Rs. 6 crore
The Ministry of Education's overall budget was kept at Rs. 93,224.31 crore, a reduction from last year's budget of Rs. 99,311 crore.
The budget designated to the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, was reduced as well and stands at Rs. 54,873.66 crore.
In sharp contrast, Sitharaman earmarked more money, as compared to last year, for the post-matric scholarship scheme.
Fact: Post-matric scheme revamped, four crore SC students to benefit
"We have revamped the post-matric scholarship scheme, for the welfare of Scheduled Castes. I have also enhanced the central assistance in this regard. We are allotting Rs. 35,219 crore for six years till 2025-2026, to benefit four crore SC students," she said.
Details: Finance Minister also announced 750 Eklavya Modern Residential Schools
Separately, Sitharaman announced that 750 Eklavya Modern Residential Schools will be established in tribal areas. The allocation for each unit was increased from the existing Rs. 20 crore to Rs. 38 crore.
The budget for schools in hilly areas for tribal students was increased to Rs. 48 crore.
Sitharaman proposed amending the Apprenticeship Act to provide the youth with more opportunities.
Research: Rs. 50,000 crore announced for National Research Foundation
To strengthen research, Sitharaman announced Rs. 50,000 crore for the National Research Foundation (NRF). This amount will be spent over five years.
Innovation and R&D was one of the six pillars of her Budget, presented amid the coronavirus crisis.
The other five pillars were health and well-being; physical and financial capital and infrastructure; inclusive development; human capital; and minimum government and maximum governance.
Also see: Senior citizens with only pension, interest income exempted from ITR
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