Indian Union Budget 2021-22: Education and employment appear to be the key areas kept in mind while drafting this year’s Union Budget. In fact, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, said
Atmanirbharta is not a new idea. Ancient India was largely self-reliant, and equally a business epicenter of the world. Atmanirbhar Bharat is an expression of 130 crore Indians who have full confidence in their capabilities and skills.
The foundation of those capabilities and skills is laid by a strong education and training ecosystem.
The minister announced that the existing National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) will be realigned with a fund of over Rs 3,000 crore.
Launched in 2016, the NATS helps students upgrade their skills to seek better employment opportunities. Now, Rs 3,000 crore will be provided to train graduates and diploma holders in engineering. Training will be offered by top companies, and the scheme will work as a bridge between employer requirements and student talent. This prioritisation of skilling will make students job-ready, in their respective domains.
- The number of students covered under the scheme is 10,74,673;
- The number of corporates involved in the scheme is 13,813;
- The number of institutions covered by this scheme is 2,669.
Benefits of the NATS:
- It is a one-year program open to all degree/diploma holders;
- It provides technical education by giving practical knowledge and skills to students in their respective domains;
- This is served by the organization (central, state, or private) at the workplace only;
- Industry experts well-acquainted with training modules ensure the performance of apprentices;
- A stipend is paid during the training period, 50% of which is reimbursed to the employer by the government of India;
- A certificate of proficiency by the government of India is issued to apprentices, which validates their employment experience.
The ‘realignment’ of the NATS will help make our education and training system at par with global standards. The focus now needs to be on developing digital infrastructure for the implementation of the NATS.
Other Noteworthy Measures
Collaboration: The Union Budget stressed on the importance of collaborating with foreign institutions to strengthen our education ecosystem. The collaboration of India with the UAE would benchmark assessment, skill qualification, certification, and keep our skills up to date. Then there is the Technical Intern Training Programme in collaboration with Japan that helps facilitate exchange of knowledge, techniques, industrial and vocational skills. This initiative will be taken forward with more countries in the future. To encourage improved academic collaboration with foreign institutions for higher education, a regulatory mechanism would be put in place to allow dual/joint degrees, twinning arrangements, and so on.
New institutions: There will be a new Central University in Leh, Ladakh; 100 new Sainik Schools across the country to be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools and states; and in tribal areas 750 Eklavya Model Residential Schools will be set up.
School education: The Union Budget emphasises on transforming the learning framework from a traditional approach to an advanced and evolved pedagogical approach for K12 students. Over 15,000 schools will include all components of the National Education Policy to enable them to emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, and mentor other schools. The allocation for Kendriya Vidyalayas has been increased from Rs 5,516 crore to Rs 6,800 crore, and the mid-day meal scheme got Rs 500 crore more—to Rs 11,500 crore from Rs 11,000 in 2020-21.
Skilling: There is increased focus on skill-based and vocational courses, which have for a long time served on the sidelines of the Indian schooling system.
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