The new National Education Policy (NEP) has reoriented education and skilling according to the aptitude of youngsters and demands of the future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday.
Lamenting the lack of flexibility in the education system over the years, the prime minister said the sector has been “rigid”. “Education and skilling have been reoriented according to the aptitude of the youngsters and demands of the future. Equal emphasis is being given to both education and skilling as part of the NEP. The move encourages the government to undertake further reforms in the education and skilling sectors while unburdening our students from the regulations of the past,” he said while addressing a post-budget webinar on “Harnessing Youth Power — Skilling and Education”.
The webinar was the third in a series of 12 post-budget webinars organised by the government to seek ideas and suggestions for the effective implementation of the initiatives announced in the Union Budget 2023-24.
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New tech, new classrooms
Taking note of the experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the prime minister underlined that new technology is helping create new types of classrooms. “The government is focusing on tools that ensure anywhere access to knowledge. Such futuristic steps are going to change the entire space of our education, skills and knowledge-science,” he said.
“Now, the role of our teachers will not be limited only to the classroom. More varieties of teaching material will be available to our educational institutions all over the country, which will open new doors of opportunities for the teachers while filling the gap between village and city schools,” he added.
Throwing light on “on-the-job learning”, Modi noted the special emphasis given to it by several countries and highlighted the efforts of his government in providing focused internships and apprenticeships to ensure “outside-the-classroom exposure” for youngsters.
“Today, there are about 75,000 employers on the National Internship Portal, where the requirements for 25 lakh internships have been posted so far,” he informed. The prime minister urged the industry and educational institutions to make maximum use of the portal and further expand the culture of internship in the country. He expressed the belief that apprenticeships will make the country’s youngsters future-ready and help the industries identify the workforce with the right skills.
Stipend for 50 lakh youth
Talking about the Union Budget, the prime minister highlighted a provision for a stipend that has been made available for about 50 lakh youngsters under the National Apprenticeship Promotion scheme. “It is creating an environment for apprenticeships and also helping the industry in payments. The world is looking at India as a manufacturing hub and there is enthusiasm in the world about investing in the country. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 will skill, re-skill and upskill lakhs of youngsters in the coming years. Tailor-made programmes are being designed according to the needs of tribals, differently-abled people and women through this scheme.
“The focus is on creating a skilled workforce for industry 4.0 sectors, such as AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, IoT and drones, thereby making it easier for international investors to scout talent, without having to spend much energy and resources on re-skilling,” he said.
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Academia, industry tie-up
Modi highlighted the importance of the role and partnership of academia and industry in bringing rapid changes in the country’s education sector.
“Research will be made possible according to the needs of the market while also creating room for adequate funding from the research industry. The private sector should take maximum advantage of every such step to strengthen the research and development ecosystem in the country,” he said.
In her budget speech in Parliament, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that three centres of excellence for artificial intelligence will be set up in top educational institutions, besides 100 laboratories in engineering institutions for developing applications using 5G services.
(With Agency inputs)