Issue :   
April 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         April 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Apr' 2018

EMPOWERING STUDENTS

Investment in education : Key to higher growth

Narendra Ram

Education is the manifestation of hidden perfection …. Swami Vivekananda

India has been known to have the greatest cultural heritage in providing the best education to the humanity since the times of Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramshila.
In 1944, the Government of British India presented a plan, called the Sergeant Scheme for educational reconstruction of India, with a goal of producing 100 per cent literacy in the country within 40 years, i.e. by 1984.
In post-Independence the provision of universal and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6–14 has been a cherished national ideal and given overriding priority under Article 45 of the Constitution.
The literacy rate grew from 18.33 per cent in 1951, to 28.30 per cent in 1961, 34.45 per cent in 1971, 43.57 per cent in 1981, 52.21 per cent in 1991, 64.84 per cent in 2001 and 74.04 per cent in 2011. During the same period, the population grew from 361 million to 1,210 million.
Key challenges to be on par with the world's leading countries in the literacy rate:

1) Literacy initiatives

As per Professor Amartya Sen, it is not the nature of the government that is the main factor in China's success but its investment in health and education that provided fuel to its explosive growth. He says India has under-invested in these key areas and hence its economic growth is poorly supported by quality human capital.
Professor Sen was critical of the suggestion that countries could grow economically first and then invest in education later, saying that it was the reverse that is true.
He supported his claim bringing historical evidence of Japan's rapid growth since the second decade of the 20st century being driven by its investment in health and education.
More recently, similar investment by Korea and the South East Asian countries provided impetus to economic growth in these countries.

2) Reach and presence

Amartya Sen Even today there are innumerable number of remote villages across our country which are deprived of having school education. Hence it is extremely critical to invest on augmenting the number of both primary and secondary government schools with remarkable proliferation in the coming years. There are 22 major languages in India, written in 13 different scripts. At the same time, there must be a thorough survey done on understanding the complexities of promoting vernacular schools in the places where vernacular languages are only spoken with no written communication.

3) Teachers' development

The Narendra Modi government is passionate about education, although it has been censured at times for trying to 'Saffronise' learning It is also extremely critical for government to have recurring training programmes for teacher development and also special incentives for the teachers who work in remote locations to encourage more teachers to prefer remote location schools.

4) Technology for better education

Though the government has initiated many programmes like epathasala , from black board to Digital board etc to bring technology enabled education , parallelly the government should concentrate on improving the beneficiaries of the same at a rapid rate.

5) Girl Child education

If a woman is educated, her entire family gets educated. So it goes without saying that the government should focus exclusively on promoting girl child education in rural segments by providing them special privileges on higher education.

6) Vocational Training education

It is extremely important that Government should open more ITI and Polytechnic colleges in the rural segment, there by the remote villages can be hopeful about employment opportunities. This will kindle enthusiasm to pursue the next level of education after their schooling.

Commendable steps

Having understood the challenges to improve the literacy ratio, the existing government's endeavour to improve the education sector is worth appreciating.
The following are the few initiatives the government has taken to improve the education sector. However, it will be more commendable if implementation is robust.
= In order to boost the Skill India Mission, two new schemes, Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE), have been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Government of India, with an outlay of Rs 6,655 crore (US$ 1.02 billion) . It will be supported by the World Bank.

Arun Jaitley = The Government of India has signed a Financing Agreement with the World Bank for IDA credit of US$ 125 million for the "Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE) Project".
= NITI Aayog is launching the Mentor India Campaign which will bring leaders and students together at more than 900 Atal Tinkering Labs in India, as part of the Atal Innovation Mission. Moreover, it has selected 1,500 additional schools across India for establishing Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) under the Government's flagship programme, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM).
= The Government of India will spend around Rs 20,000 crore (US$ 3.10 billion) to build six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) by March 2024, of which Rs 7,000 crore (US$ 1.08 billion) will be spent by March 2020.
= The Government of India has approved an all-time record of over 4,000 post-graduation (PG) medical seats to be added in various medical colleges and hospitals for the academic session 2017-18, said Mr J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
= The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' (PMGDISHA) to make 60 million rural households digitally literate. The outlay for this project is Rs 2,351.38 crore (US$ 353.70 million) to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March, 2019.
= The Prime Minister has launched the Skill India initiative – 'Kaushal Bharat, Kushal Bharat'. Under this initiative, the government has set

On the education front, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced setting up of Ekalavya Model Residential School on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas to provide the best quality education to tribal children in their own environment by 2022. In every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, special facilities will be created for preserving local art and culture, besides providing training in sports and skill development.

itself a target of training 400 million citizens by 2022 that would enable them to find jobs. The initiatives launched include various programmes like: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, Skill Loan Scheme, and the National Skill Development Mission.
= The National Skill Development Mission has created an elaborate skilling eco-system and imparted training to 7.6 million youth since its launch in 2015 and the government now plans to set up 1,500 Multi Skill Training Institutes across the country.
= On the education front, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced setting up of Ekalavya Model Residential School on par with NavodayaVidyalayas to provide the best quality education to tribal children in their own environment by 2022. In every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, special facilities will be created for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.
= To step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions, a major initiative named ''Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022'' with a total investment of Rs.1,00,000 crore in next four years has been announced. Jaitley has said that a survey of more than 20 lakh children has been conducted to assess the status on the ground, which will help in devising a district-wise strategy for improving quality of education.
= To improve the quality of teachers an integrated B.Ed. programme for teachers will be initiated. Jaitley says that the Government would launch the ''Prime

The National Skill Development Mission has created an elaborate skilling eco-system and imparted training to 7.6 million youth since its launch in 2015. The government now plans to set up 1,500 Multi - Skill Training Institutes across the country.

Minister's Research Fellows (PMRF)'' Scheme this year. Under this, 1,000 best B.Tech students will be identified each year from premier institutions and provide them facilities to do Ph.D in IITs and IISc, with a handsome fellowship. Allocation on National Social Assistance Programme this year has been kept at Rs. 9975 crore.

Road ahead

In 2030, it is estimated that India's higher education will: = Adopt transformative and innovative approaches in higher education.
= Have an augmented Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 50 per cent = Reduce state-wise, gender based and social disparity in GER to 5 per cent.
= Emerge as a single largest provider of global talent, with one in four graduates in the world being a product of the Indian higher education system.
= Be among the top five countries in the world in terms of research output with an annual R&D spent of US$ 140 billion.
= Have more than 20 universities among the global top 200.

Conclusion

Last but not the least, we have no dearth of scholars who can enrich the education sector to enviable heights. It is suggested that like the Swachcha Bharat, literacy also should be promoted exclusively in remote villages by different NGOs and the Government of India in the name of "Saaksharata Bharat" . To discuss the strategy a National Debate should be called for by the government, inviting distinguished scholars across the country.
Let me recall the words of Swami Vivekananda "Education is not filling the mind with lot of facts. But getting mastery of one's own Mind ".