Tuesday, February 21, 2012

12th Five Year Plan to focus on teachers’ training

Having invested heavily in building schools and higher education infrastructure in the 11th Five Year Plan, the government will now work on improving access and quality of education. Budget 2012-13 will bring with it a National Mission for Teachers (NMT) and a Higher Education Credit Guarantee Authority to facilitate student loans, sources said. Nearly Rs. 61,000 crore (Rs. 610 billion) is expected to be allocated for the education sector this financial year.

This year, the government will launch the Rs. 750 crore (Rs. 7.5 billion) NMT that will help teachers upgrade their skills. To start with, all Central universities will be asked to set up a School of Education. As of now, 30 of the 43 Central varsities do not have a Department of Education. That apart, the 66 Academic Staff Colleges will be revamped to offer refresher courses. Usage of ICT to help connect universities and share e-content across the country will be part of the Mission. While the Mission will take off this financial year, it will be consolidated over the 12th Plan period.

Concerned over the risk perception associated with student loans, the government will set up a Higher Education Credit Guarantee Authority that will provide limited credit guarantees through risk pooling for educational loans obtained by students. Being put together by the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), this authority is envisaged as a body that will facilitate loan provision to students and at the same time reduce the risk perception of scheduled public sector banks.

Sources said that while Rs. 46,000 crore (Rs. 460 billion) is expected in allocation for the Department of School Education, another Rs. 15,000 crore (Rs. 150 billion) will go to the Department of Higher Education. The ministry, however, had requested for nearly Rs. 80,000 crore (Rs. 800 billion) for school education and Rs. 25,000 crore (Rs. 250 billion) for higher education. In 2012-13, the ministry plans to extend the scope of assistance to state universities through an incentivisation plan.

Source: The Indian Express, February 21, 2012

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