14 States Hesitate to Join Education Scheme Over Funding and Reforms

14 States Hesitate to Join Education Scheme Over Funding and Reforms
Posted on 14-08-2023

14 States Yet to Join Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, Raising Concerns over Funding and Reforms

In recent news, a crucial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between 14 Indian States and Union Territories and the Union Education Ministry remains unsigned, drawing attention to their absence from the flagship education initiative, Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA). This MoU is pivotal as it mandates the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) in order for these states to access nearly ₹13,000 crore in funds over the next three years.

PM-USHA, a central scheme executed by the Ministry of Education, aims to enhance the quality of higher education across the nation. The 14 states' hesitation to sign the MoU stems from concerns related to funding and the obligations it entails. The MoU necessitates that states contribute 40% of the budget for the PM-USHA initiative.

The core objectives of PM-USHA encompass improving access, equity, and quality within higher education through planned development at the state level. This includes creating new academic institutions, upgrading existing ones, and fostering self-reliance in terms of quality education with a focus on research.

The scheme allocates ₹12,926.10 crore between 2023-24 and 2025-26, aiming to drive curricular and program changes, teacher training, digital and physical infrastructure improvements, accreditation efforts, and employability enhancement. However, some states are unsettled by the lack of additional funds specifically designated for implementing the NEP reforms.

The NEP outlines a comprehensive set of reforms to revamp the higher education system, including administrative, academic, accreditation, and governance reforms. The MoU mandates states to adhere to these reforms, which encompass initiatives such as an academic credit bank, flexibility in entry and exit points, and the Samarth e-governance platform.

The concern of the 14 states is that implementing these NEP reforms will require additional financial support from the central government, as the existing allocation under PM-USHA does not explicitly account for them. This impasse underscores the importance of aligning funding with the comprehensive reform agenda of the NEP and ensuring a collaborative approach between the central and state governments to achieve the goals of higher education reform.

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