The National Education Policy (NEP) recommended by the committee of K Kasturirangan and passed by the government carries the baggage of broader perspectives along with the presumptions of pipe dreams. Keeping the policy decisions intact, Ms Sitharaman introduced profound policies to speed up the ideation behind the NEP. In the School education arena, the Finance minister vouched to nourish 15,000 schools with the NEP components. The announcement also mentioned setting up 100 new Sainik Schools in partnership with various organisations both governmental and non-governmental. It’s an optimistic step towards training the students inclined towards defence. With a low aggregate of 34 schools, setting up 100 more shall boost the intellectual quality of students in the National Defence Academy (NDA).
School Education is a primary facet in regulating human capital. So, the government has developed a staggered approach to deal with the problem of illiteracy and the provision of social security. Under Article 21-a, the allocation of funds towards school education shall have an undeviating impact on the oppressed who lack ideal schooling in their region. A recent report of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) highlights the two primary schemes, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya. These schemes can be a consequential approach to execute the plan of nourishing 15000 schools with NEP components.
The government has obscurely announced strengthening the schooling system without discussing the modus operandi about the same. With about 250 million students in India and a pupil-teacher ratio of 24:1 (lags behind Brazil and China), it becomes difficult to embrace the encouragement.
In the revised education policy, several new ameliorations brought about change in the higher education system in our country. To divide those changes, the government made significant announcements about higher education in India. The government announced to set-up a Higher Education Commission of India as supporting the body with four vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulating, and funding. It will replace the current regulating authorities such as the Universities Grants Commission (UGC) and AICTE.
The government has highlighted the NEP features while discussing the reinvigoration of human capital. The budget highlighted setting up formal regulatory bodies for Government colleges, universities, research centres in a particular city to accentuate the educational outreach. Also, the major highlight of the 4th pillar was the approval of establishing a central university in Ladakh. It would help to increase the ubiquity of quality education in Ladakh.
The announcements by the Finance Minister tends to wholly transform the higher education system in India. With the scrapping of age-old bodies like UGC, the newly formed rules will have a broader perspective towards the universities in the country. Also, a centralized body shall have a combined allocation of the budget rather than the scattered dispersion of funds. With the setting up of the National Research Foundation under the NEP, the higher education sector has ushered the students with valuable opportunities. Today, the number of students enrolling in universities is 37.4 million with a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 26.3. To achieve a GER of 50 by 2035, The higher educational institutes are constantly striving to develop the requisite social infrastructure of the country.
One of the major adversity of the announcement was the lack of development in the teaching sector of the country. The faculty arena is plagued with inexperience and lacklustre. It is explicit why the share of PhD students remained stagnant, and low, over nearly 10 years. The quality of teachers and researchers lacks highbrows. The budget does not provide incentive or development to enhance the selection criteria for teachers or provide them with a requisite aptitude to regulate their performance.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare
The finance minister made significant announcements with regards to the minority communities. With an aim to set-up 750 Eklavya model residential schools in tribal areas with an enhancement in the unit cost of each school from Rs 20 crore to Rs 38 crore, and for difficult areas, to Rs 48 crore. Similarly, the government decided to revamp the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for the benefit of the Scheduled Castes, it allocated central assistance of Rs 35,219 crore for 6 years till 2025-26, to provide social security to over 4 crores SC students.
The announcements are an optimistic step towards helping minority communities. Eklavya Model Residential Schools formulated in 1997-98 tend to provide eminent educational facets to the Scheduled Tribes children in our society. Till today, a total of 566 schools are sanctioned and over 70,000 students have enrolled under the scheme. Increasing it further shall provide an incentive to the oppressed students to assimilate the perks of quality education.
India’s higher education is growing at an advanced pace. But the impact is not pervasive in a profound sense. The north-east sector found no mention in the educational announcements of budget 2021. Being a secluded part of the country, it receives minimal attention to rejuvenation. Inadequate physical infrastructure has resulted in significant educational backwardness.
Also, due to the lack of attention towards establishing prominent institutions like IITs and IIMs in the north-east has resulted in excessive brain drain. In the higher education system of the north-eastern region, there is a consequential dearth of academic-industry cohesion and this has led to manifold problems. The vintage universities in India are still averse to the alliance of the academic and industrial world. To resolve the issue, it is consequential to improve the higher education in NER of India, Public-Private Partnerships should be encouraged. The government should also think about implementing PPP to supplement qualitative developments in government colleges with substandard quality output.
Introduction of Skilling Programmes
Innovation has found a significant position in the announcements. The government proposed to amend the Apprenticeship act to increase the opportunities for the youth. A total sum of 3000 crores allocated for the redevelopment of the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS). Initiatives of skilling programmes to be encouraged with countries like UAE which constitute a significant Indian workforce. Also, With Japan for a collaborative Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) to share skills, techniques, and knowledge.
The skills and apprenticeship programmes had first found mention in the budget of 2015. Since then, it is a highly encouraged and successful manifestation. It has supplemented the quality workers in the country with expert knowledge about diverse fields. The Schemes for apprenticeship implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship caters to a large cross-section of the population such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), National Apprentice Promotion Scheme, National policy for skill development and entrepreneurship 2015, Udaan, Seekho aur Kamado etc. An increase in apprenticeship training shall assist in increasing the horizon of the skills and amplify the Indian economy to reap demographic dividends.
Though the scheme offers a plethora of incentives, as they say, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. Of late, in the pursuit of reaping demographic dividends, both Centre, as well as the state, have implemented many schemes for skill formation. On the one hand, there is an apparent mismatch of demand and supply of skilled labour force required by the industry while on the other too many parallel schemes tend to disturb the profound purpose of apprenticeship policies.
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