With India expected to be home to the largest population of young people, the focus on ensuring qualitative education opportunities becomes critical. In line with the aims of the new National Education Policy, the Central government on Monday said it will focus sharply on qualitatively strengthening over 15,000 schools to make them “exemplar” schools, which will in turn mentor other schools in their region.

One hundred new Sainik Schools will also be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools or states. In a bid to strengthen educational infrastructure in tribal areas, the government plans to set up 750 Eklavya model residential schools with increased allocation of ₹38 crore per unit (from ₹20 crore) and ₹48 crore per unit in hilly and difficult terrains. A plan to set up a Central University in Leh was also announced.

Anindya Mallick, Partner, Deloitte India, said that the targeted approach to strengthen over 15,000 schools is a step in the right direction in aligning the Indian education system with global practices.

Stating that Sainik Schools built in partnership with NGOs and private schools will ensure they have modern infrastructure, he added that the new Eklavya model residential schools will ensure children in tribal areas have access to the quality educational opportunities available to their urban peers.

The Central government will also introduce a legislation to set up a Higher Education Commission of India, as envisioned in the new education policy, to create an umbrella body that will have “four separate vehicles” for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation and funding. Says S Vaidhyasubramaniam, Vice-Chancellor, Sastra University, “Allocation to social sectors like health and education makes India healthy and empowered. A 100 Sainik Schools in partnership mode is a big boost and higher education has received proportional share across different streams.”

A “Glue Grant” will also be set up to create umbrella structures so that government-supported research institutions and universities in nine cities can have better synergy while retaining autonomy.

Prajodh Rajan, Co-Founder and Group CEO, EuroKids International, said, “With an aim to move India towards an Atmanirbhar Bharat, this year the focus is on rolling out the NEP and its elements across schools.”

Developing human capital

In a bid to strengthen the research ecosystem in the country, the Government made a key announcement of allocation of ₹50,000 crore over the next five years for the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Meanwhile, the revamped Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Schedule Castes will see enhanced Central assistance with an allocation of ₹35,219 crore for the next six years, aiming to benefit four crore SC students.

The Government also plans to realign the existing National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) and has allocated funds of over ₹3,000 crore.