The country’s education sector is expected to get a huge boost in the upcoming budget, with outlay for education rising by as much as Rs 15,500 crore over the Rs 34,500 crore provided to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the interim budget in February, 2009.
This increment — the highest for any ministry in the last three years — would require to be used for improving school education and expanding higher education.
A special allocation of Rs 8,500 crore is being earmarked for setting up eight new IITs, seven IIMs, 10 new National Institutes of Technology and 15 Central Universities, a senior government official, who was not willing to be quoted, said. A part of this allocation would be utilised to upgrade colleges to Universities. At present, India has 431 universities; China has over 1,500.
Another Rs 8,000 crore is expected for infrastructure schemes like setting up 6,000 model schools, of which 2,500 would be through the public private partnership mode, in the educationally-backward districts and improving the quality of education under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. Mid-day meal and pre-matric scholarship for students from weaker sections is also expected to get higher allocation.
The government has set itself an ambitious target of creating a pool of 300 million skilled workers by 2012 and about 500 million by 2022 that will help the country maintain its competitive workforce advantage over rivals like China.
On Thursday, Kapil Sibal, minister of human resource development, said he will announce a 100-day agenda for the ministry next week. The agenda will include initiatives like setting up an autonomous authority for higher education and research, a law to regulate entry and operation of foreign educational providers and a new policy to attract talent from the across the world to existing and new institutions.
Estimates suggest that around 100,000 of Indian students leave each year to study abroad, at a cost of $4billion or Rs 16,000 crore.
“A mismatch between target and delivery is an issue and there is a need for massive private participation in skill building initiatives,” Amit Mitra, secretary-general, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) said.
“If the education sector opens up, it will bring in some of the best universities in the country. At the same time, some changes in law will have to be introduced to allow a level-playing field for Indian private companies to run educational institutions.”
In all, the HRD ministry will get close to Rs 50,000 crore, a five-time increase in allocation as compared to Budget 2005-06.