Sunday, January 24, 2010

Big push for higher education

In a big push for higher education, the government on January 21 cleared a string of proposals to start 374 model colleges in educationally backward districts, double fellowships for researchers and interconnect 1,500 institutions through high-speed data communication network. At its meetings on Thursday, the Union cabinet and its committees also cleared a proposal to launch a pilot project to deliver urban facilities in rural areas. The ambitious scheme to Provide Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) will be implemented through a publicprivate partnership. The rural development ministry hopes to start the scheme after this month. The restructured PURA, a pet project of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, got clearance for a plan outlay of Rs. 248 crore. "We hope we will be able to start this project after this month. We will do it as soon as possible," Union Minister C.P.Joshi said.

The cabinet decided to double the number of Junior Research Fellowship through CSIR-UGC National Eligibility Test, an official statement said. In the 11th Plan (2007-12), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research proposes to provide fellowships for about 12,000 students at a cost of Rs. 444.34 crore. The biggest beneficiaries of the programme will be universities and science institutes as they will be able to attract bright minds for research.

A model college set up under the scheme cleared on Thursday will cost the government about Rs. 8 crore and provide education to about 190,000 students per year. The scheme will cost a total of Rs. 2,992 crore, including central share of Rs. 1,079 crore. The government proposes to set up 200 colleges in the remaining period of the 11th Plan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced the setting up of model colleges in 2007 to help increase the gross enrolment ratio in educationally backward districts.

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure also accorded its in-principle nod to setting up of the national knowledge network to be implemented by the National Informatics Centre. The National Knowledge Commission had recommended linking all knowledge institutions through high-speed data communication network to encourage sharing of knowledge, specialised resources and collaborative research, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy said.

Source: Hindustan Times, January 22, 2010

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