Union Budget 2021 – Key takeaways for School and Higher Education in India 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021 today (1 February) at 11 am. While talking about the fourth pillar of budget proposals 2021-22 named as “Reinvigorating Human Capital”, Nirmala Sitharaman stated that “the National Education Policy (NEP) announced recently has had good reception.” 

Taking the same into account, she made the following announcements: 

Union Budget 2021 – School Education

  • 15,000+ schools shall be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of NEP 2020. These schools will then handhold and mentor other schools to follow the ideals of the policy. 
  • NGOs, private schools and states will partner with the government to set up 100 new Sainik schools.

Union Budget 2021 – Higher Education

  • FM Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated her prior mention of setting up a Higher Education Commission of India. She stated that in 2021, the legislation to implement the same will be introduced. 
  • The Higher Education Commission of India will act as an “umbrella body” and perform the 4 major functions of standard setting, accreditation, regulation and funding. 
  • Citing the example of Hyderabad, the Finance Minister specified that the city has 40 research institutions, universities and colleges that are being supported by the Government of India. Other such cities (where there are institutions supported by the Indian Government) will now have formal umbrella structures so that these institutions can have “better synergy, while also retaining their internal autonomy.
  • Further, Nirmala Sitharaman proposed setting up a Central University in Leh “for accessible higher education in India.”

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Other important projects to be taken up as part of NEP are listed at Annexure V

Union Budget 2021 – Focus on Skilling Students

  • With a focus on skilling students in her third budget, the Union Finance Minister proposed an amendment in the Apprenticeship Act to further enhance apprenticeship opportunities for the youth of our nation. Nirmala Sitharaman further mentioned that the government will spend over 3000 crores to “realign the existing scheme of NATS (National Apprenticeship Training Scheme) for providing post-education apprenticeship, training of graduates and diploma holders in engineering”. 
  • In partnership with the UAE, an initiative will be launched to “benchmark skill qualifications, assessment, and certification, accompanied by the deployment of certified workforce.” Talking about another cross-border initiative, Sitharaman mentioned that there is also a “collaborative Training Inter Training Programme (TITP) between India and Japan to facilitate transfer of Japanese industrial and vocational skills, technique, and knowledge.” Such initiatives will be taken forward with many other countries. 

The Union Budget 2021 also contained the proposal for allocation of INR 35,219 crore for revamping the post-matric scholarship scheme for 4 crore Scheduled Caste (SC) students till 2025-26. Union Budget 2021 - Focus on Skilling Students

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Moreover, under the National Language Translation Mission, policy-related information shall be available on the internet in regional languages. This is another step forward towards the implementation of NEP 2020, which stresses on creating content in regional languages. 

The Union Education Minister further proposed setting up regional national institutes in virology.  

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