New Delhi, February 28: Observing that education is the key to reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend in the form of a young population, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday announced a 24 percent hike in the budget allocation for education.
“For education, I propose an allocation of Rs.52,057 crore, with an increase of 24 percent over the current year,” Mukherjee informed the Lok Sabha while presenting the budget.
“Our demographic dividend, a relatively younger population compared to developed countries, is as much of an opportunity as it is a challenge. Over 70 percent of India will be of working age by 2025. In this context universalizing access to secondary education, increasing percentage of our scholars in higher education and providing skills training is necessary,” he said.
The allocation for Right to Education was meanwhile hiked by 40 percent.
“The operational norms of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have been revised to implement the right of children to free and compulsory education which came into force from April 1, 2010. For the year 2011-12, I propose to allocate Rs.21,000 crore which is 40 percent higher than Rs.15,000 crore allocated in Budget 2010-11,” he said.
The finance minister also said that Vocationalization of secondary education will be implemented from 2011-12 as a centrally sponsored scheme to improve employability of youth.
The minister also announced a scheme for scholarship for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students in classes 9 and 10.
“Empowerment flows from education. While the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students have access to post-matric scholarship, there was so far a lack of pre-matric scholarship scheme.
“In 2011-12, I propose to introduce a scholarship scheme for needy students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes studying in class 9th and 10th. This would benefit about 40 lakh students,” the minister said.
Mukherjee also said that the proposed National Knowledge Network, which aims at connecting 1,500 institutes of higher learning and research across the country will connect 190 institutes by March this year while the rest will be brought into the network by March 2012.
The minister also informed that the National Skill Development Council (NSDC) is well on course to achieve its mandate of creating 15 crore skilled workforce two years ahead of 2022, the stipulated target year.
“It has already sanctioned 26 projects with a total funding of Rs.658 crore. These projects alone are expected to create more than four crore skilled workforce over the next ten years.
“In the current year, skill training has so far been provided to 20,000 persons. Of these, 75 percent have found placements. I will provide an additional Rs.500 crore to the National Skill Development Fund during the next year,” he said.
Among other allocations in the education sector, the finance minister announced grants of Rs.50 crore each for Aligarh Muslim University’s upcoming campuses at Murshidabad in West Bengal and Malappuram in Kerala and Rs.100 crore as a one-time grant to Kerala Veterinary Animal Science University.
Also, Rs.10 crore each was allocated for setting up the Kolkata and Allahabad centres of the Wardha-based Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur will get Rs.200 crore as a one-time grant.
The minister also sanctioned Rs.20 crore to the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata for setting up a financial research and training laboratory and Rs.200 crore for the Maulana Azad Education Foundation.
The Delhi School of Economics and Madras School of Economics have also been allotted Rs.10 crore each.