VIJAYAWADA: Reiterating that education is the topmost priority of his government, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said poverty can be effectively eradicated only with higher education. Understanding its importance, every effort has been made since the government was formed two years ago to improve educational standards and opportunities, he said.
Releasing the second tranche of `693.81 crore under Jagananna Vidya Deevena (fee reimbursement) benefiting 10.97 lakh students on Thursday, he said fee reimbursement amount is being credited directly into the accounts of 9,88,437 mothers of students. “By giving the fees to mothers, they get a right to confront the college managements in case standards, facilities or other aspects in the college are not satisfactory. Further, colleges will be held accountable,” he observed. Describing education as the biggest asset his government has to give to the future of the state, the Chief Minister said he strongly believes that education is the only tool with which one can change his/her fate.
The Chief Minister said in some aspects of education, Andhra Pradesh is still lagging behind, which is a matter of concern. “There are still 33 per cent illiterates in the state as against the national average of 27 per cent. In the age group of 18-23 years, students who are pursuing higher education after intermediate are very less, not just in the state but in the country as well. In every aspect, we compare with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, as they have a similar kind of economy. But when we do that, we find ourselves far behind them,” he said.
The students aged between 18 and 23 pursuing higher education after Intermediate is 51.8 per cent in Brazil, in Russia, it is 83.4 per cent and 54.7 per cent in China, but in India it is just 27 per cent. In other words, 73 per cent of the youth in India are not pursuing higher education after secondary education, Jagan pointed out. The Chief Minister said while ensuring children pursue higher education, it is equally important to ensure parents do not get into debt trap for supporting children’s higher education. Only in that manner can the fate of children be changed for the better.
He said his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy took a step in that direction by introducing fee reimbursement and he is going further and implementing full fees reimbursement for students from SC, ST, BC, minorities and poor in OCs under Jagananna Vidya Deevena. “Further, to support their hostel accommodation and mess charges, `20,000 per head is being provided to them every year under Jagananna Vasathi Deevena,” he said.
On the occasion, he recalled an incident during his Padayatra which prompted him to take up fee reimbursement on a priority. He said he met Gopal in Udayagiri constituency of Nellore district, who said his son pursued engineering and to support him he had to borrow `70,000, as there was no guarantee when the fee reimbursement would be given. Seeing his father falling in debt trap for his education, Gopal’s son died by suicide. “Hearing it, I was deeply moved and decided to bring in changes to ensure such incidents do not recur,” he said.
“In the last two years, for education sector alone, our government spent `26,677 crore and introduced schemes like Jagananna Amma Vodi, Goru Mudha, Vidya Kanuka, Vasati Deevena and improving infrastructure under Naadu-Nedu,” he said. He further said they are bringing reforms by introducing PP1 and PP2 in Anagawadi, introducing English medium from PP1 to degree, introducing CBSE syllabus, so children can get better opportunities and a better future.