Budget 2020: Govt proposes online degree programmes for weaker sections

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A degree level full-fledged online education programme will be offered by the country's top 100 educational institutions to students belonging to deprived sections of the society and those who do not have access to higher studies, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

Presenting the Budget for fiscal 2020-21 in Parliament, Sitharaman said a new education policy will soon be announced and the government proposes to provide about Rs 99,300 crore for the education sector in 2020-21 and about Rs 3,000 crore for skill development.

"By tying skill development with education, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has given wings to the Skill India Mission and the overall skilling ecosystem of the country. India is a treasure trove of gifted individuals who must be skilled in order for them to realise their dreams.

"The Rs 3,000 crore outlay will give an impetus to vocational education and training. Under the current plans, we are already proving skill training across 8,000 schools and institutes, with 400 hours in classes 9-10 and 500 hours in classes 11-12 for one trade. The Budget 2020 makes a provision for expanding the net to other schools as well," Union Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey said.

The finance minister also announced that a special bridge course would be designed by ministries of health and skill development and entrepreneurship in conjunction with professional bodies to bring in equivalence and improve the skillsets of teachers, nurses, paramedical staff and care-givers.

Emphasising that India should also be a preferred destination for higher education, she said under a 'Study in India' programme an IND-SAT exam is proposed in Asian and African countries for benchmarking foreign candidates who receive scholarships for studying in Indian higher education centres.

"Dialogues have been held with state education ministries, Members of Parliament and other stakeholders on the education policy. Over 2 lakh suggestions were also received. The new education policy will be announced soon," Sitharaman said, adding steps would be taken to enable sourcing of external commercial borrowing and FDI so as to deliver higher quality education.

Observing that students in general stream as opposed to those in sciences or technology stream need their employment opportunities improved, she said about 150 higher education institutions will start apprenticeship, embedded degree diploma courses by March 2021.

"The government proposes to start a programme whereby urban local bodies across the country would provide internship opportunities to fresh engineers for a period up to one year," the finance minister said.

In order to provide quality education to students of deprived sections of the society as well as those who do not have access to higher education it is proposed to start degree level full-fledged online education programme, Sitharaman announced.

She said this shall be offered only by institutions ranked within top 100 in the national institutional ranking framework and initially, only a few such institutions would be asked to offer such programmes.

Besides, a national police university and a national forensic science university are being proposed in the domain of policing science, forensic science and cyber forensics.

Sitharaman said the government will also start a programme whereby urban local bodies across the country would provide internship opportunities to fresh engineers for a period of up to one year. National Skill Development Agency will give special thrust to infrastructure-focused skill development opportunities, the Minister explained.



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