New Delhi: Giving a boost to higher learning and with the promise of providing one major central institute in each state, the government on Saturday earmarked Rs 26,855 crore for higher education, an increase of over 13 per cent over last year.
For the year 2015-2016, the government allocated Rs 26,855 crore to the department of higher education under the human resource development (HRD) ministry compared to Rs 23,700 crore in 2014-15, registering an increase of 13.31 per cent - a little over last year's 12.9 per cent.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, presenting the Budget for 2015-16, said that in the speech of July last year he had indicated his intention to provide one major central institute in each state.
"In the fiscal year 2015-16, I propose to set up an IIT in Karnataka, and upgrade Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad into a full-fledged IIT. I also propose to set up a postgraduate Institute of Horticulture Research and Education in Amritsar," Jaitley said.
The finance minister said he has allocated Rs 68,968 crore to the education sector including mid-day meals.
However, the allocation for the department of school education and literacy saw a decrease of 9.79 per cent over 2014-15. The government has set aside Rs 42,219.5 crore for the department for 2015-16, as compared to Rs 46,805 crore last year.
Human resource development minister Smriti Irani praised Jaitley for giving importance to girls' education. She said it is "a pragmatic Budget that gives lot of thrust on infrastructure, skill India, innovation, girls' education".
Jaitley also announced the setting up of Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in Jammu & Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh, while also proposing to upgrade the existing National Institute of Speech and Hearing to a University of Disability Studies and Rehabilitation in Kerala.
"I also propose three new National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research: in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh; and an Institutes of Science and Education Research in Nagaland and Odisha," he said.
Jaitley also proposed to set up a Centre for Film Production, Animation and Gaming in Arunachal Pradesh for the northeastern states along with an Apprenticeship Training Institute for Women in Haryana and Uttarakhand. The minister noted that educating and skilling youth to enable them to get employment is the altar before which all must bow.
"To ensure that there is a senior secondary school within five km reach of each child, we need to upgrade over 80,000 secondary schools and add or upgrade 75,000 junior/middle to the senior secondary level," he said in his speech.
"We also have to ensure that education improves in terms of quality and learning outcomes," he added.
Under the department, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) - a flagship programme to achieve universalization of elementary education in a time bound manner - has been allocated Rs 100 crore as compared to Rs 93.14 crore last year.
Jaitley also said that with a view to enable all poor and middle class students to pursue higher education of their choice without any constraint of funds, "I propose to set up a fully IT based Student Financial Aid Authority to administer and monitor Scholarship as well as educational loan schemes, through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram".
He said it would be ensured that no student misses out on higher education for lack of funds.
Jaitley added that an integrated education and livelihood scheme called 'Nai Manzil' would be launched this year to enable minority youth who do not have a formal school-leaving certificate to obtain one and find better employment.
Hailing the Budget, Prashant Bhalla, president, Manav Rachna Educational Institutions, said it was a "welcome Budget" for the education sector.
"The finance minister has given the much needed push to professional and technical education by announcing the establishment of IITs. The plan for upgrading 80,000 secondary schools is just an indication of the focus towards quality education," he said in a statement.