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HRD Seeks ₹60,900 Cr for Giving Laptops to College Students

June 30, 2020 07:46 AM

courtesy ET JUNE 30

HRD Seeks ₹60,900 Cr for Giving Laptops to College Students
ON THE CARDS Mid-day meal scheme for pre-primary and breakfast for junior classes to be introduced soon
Anubhuti.Vishnoi@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

The Union Human Resource Development ministry is preparing to extend the flagship mid-day meal scheme to pre-primary classes and to introduce breakfast for junior classes. It also plans to launch a ₹60,900 crore scheme to provide laptops/devices to over 4 crore college students over the next five years, to bridge the digital divide.


The plan for laptops comes at a time when the education system is faced with the challenge of running nearly an entire academic session in online mode due to Covid-19 and is grappling with the reality of a huge chunk of students being left out due to the lack of access to computers and internet.

ET has learnt that both proposals were put forward by the HRD ministry at a meeting of the 15th Finance Commission on Monday which was chaired by chairman NK Singh and attended by the union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

MEALS AT SCHOOL

The Department of School Education is preparing to move the Expenditure Finance Committee followed by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to “extend the mid-day meal facility to preparatory classes and introduce breakfast from preparatory to elementary classes”, ET has learnt.

It also apprised the 15th Finance Commission of the same and sought ₹11,5392 crore from the 15th Finance Commission towards the mid day meal scheme for “ including pre-primary children and energising breakfast for children” for a period of five years.For locations where it may be difficult to provide a hot cooked meal, a simple but nutritious meal, e.g., consisting of groundnuts/ chana mixed with jaggery and/or local fruits may be provided. To ensure the quality of food served and its nutritional content, the ministry has proposed that expenditure on meals will be linked to food costs and inflation.

RETURN OF TABLETS/PCS

The higher education department has proposed to launch from 2021-22 a scheme for ‘Making Devices Available’ to 40% of students in higher education, estimated to be 4.06 crore in five years. The ministry proposes to start with distributing laptops/tablets of about ₹15,000 each to 1.5 crore students in 2021-22 at a cost of ₹22,500 crore. Of this, ₹13,500 crore is expected to be borne by the Centre and the remaining ₹9,000 crore would be the states’ share.

The devices are part of the larger governmental plan towards digital learning. It has already moved to increase the permissible online component in conventional, open and distance modes of education from 20 % to 40% and allowed eligible high-ranking universities to offer full-fledged online programmes automatically

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