Over the past few years, the Government of India through the Ministry of Human Resource Development has helped over 24 lakh students with student loans and subsidies, incurring a cost of around Rs 7,000 crore per year.
“We have also increased scholarships and funding for education. Still, good news can be expected from the budget. We want to ensure that no student has to give up education or dreams because he cannot afford it,” HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said, delivering the keynote address at TNIE’s ThinkEdu Conclave.
“We have identified districts which are ‘aspiring’ for more education accessibility and we are ensuring that more is done to make these districts more educated,” he added. Javadekar spoke about a renewed focus on online learning, “We know what is ATM (Any Time Money), but we are working towards ATL (Any Time Learning). Just like Coursera and other online learning initiatives, the government has launched ‘Swayam’ where over 600 courses are available and almost 17 lakh students have already registered for it,” he explained. The minister also threw light on the National Digital Library where over 1.30 lakh books are available free of cost.
With regard to school education, Javadekar said that he was completely against the idea of scrapping examinations for school students. “The previous governments have taken decisions that allow students to not attempt any major examinations till the 8th standard. Even 10th standard students did not have to attempt exams. I think that without accountability and without assessment, there can be no learning. Students need to have deadlines, need to have tests to measure their learning outcome,” he said, reflecting on how they had enforced the 10th standard exam for CBSE students from this year on.
He also pointed out the dire state of the government schools in the country, “Now the schools have become only about mid-day meals- Aana, Khaana, Jaana- students are only eating but there is no learning. We have to improve the quality and infrastructure in schools,” he suggested.
The Minister stressed on the need for more innovation on our campuses and the importance of creating conducive environments for the same, “We are importing so many products from outside, we are not creating on our own. Many big projects have Indians on their teams but we don’t have the patents. We have to concentrate on creating more research labs so students can innovate and help the country prosper. We are always talking about how IT is flourishing in India, but where is all the innovation. We strive to provide the best ecosystems and labs for students to realise Indian’s innovation dreams,” he concluded.