The government will henceforth pay the tuition and hostel fees of children in orphanages in the State who enrol for higher studies in government and aided colleges. The government will write off the interest on education loans taken by students in the APL category—with a family income of less than Rs.3 lakh — from scheduled banks between 2004 and 2009. These were among the highlights of the education component of the State Budget for 2013-14 presented here by Finance Minister K.M. Mani.

The budget has set aside Rs.30 crore for the schemes. While Rs.26.6 crore has been set aside for the development of government schools, Rs.56 crore has been allocated for developing facilities in higher secondary schools. Digital libraries will be set up in schools in the State.

Students from families with an annual income of Rs.3 lakh or less who gain admission into IITs, IIMs, the IISc, and the IISER will get 75 per cent of their fees paid by the government. Students from such families who gain admission to professional courses will have to pay fees only at the government rates. The budget has set aside Rs.5 crore for this.

Three entrepreneurship development centres will be set up under the commission for forward castes to ensure skill development among forward-caste students. The government will bear the tuition fees for the higher studies of children of widows with an annual family income of less than Rs.3 lakh. The tuition and hostel fees of students in the BPL category will be borne by the government.

Placement cells will be set up in all colleges, polytechnics, and ITIs to train students to be employable. Multi-level training institutes will be set up in all districts as part of an initiative to ensure personality development of employable youth. Three recruitment training centres will be set up in the State to train youth who belong to the backward communities to get employment in the public and private sectors.The government will institute a scheme for providing training for entrance examinations — in a telecast mode — to students in higher secondary classes. Vocational courses in Automobile Manufacture, Information and Communication, Farming, and Information Technology will be offered in technical high schools and in polytechnics through the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework at a cost of Rs.50 lakh.

PCs for students

A scheme to provide students of higher secondary and vocational higher secondary classes with tablet PCs will be implemented in a phased manner; in 2013-14, the scheme will be piloted in two districts. The State Resource Centre will be asked to develop an evaluation system for mentally challenged students.

On the higher education front, the State Budget for 2013-14 envisages the setting up of an international and inter-university centre for nano-science and nano materials at Mahatma Gandhi University. Similar centres will be set up at CUSAT (for IPR), at Kannur University (for bio-sciences), at Calicut University (for financial economics and financial engineering) and at the University of Kerala (for management of natural resources).

The budget has allocated Rs.50 lakh for setting up Kerala State Assessment and Accreditation Council (K-SAAC). A faculty training centre will be set up under the Kerala State Higher Education Council to train freshly appointed college lecturers. The government will encourage high-performing arts and science and engineering colleges to gain autonomy.

Infrastructure

Rs.15 crore has been set aside to help government colleges improve infrastructure. A special purpose vehicle will be constituted to set up an academic city in Kerala.

Courses in Automotive Mechatronics, Printing Technology, and in Automation Technologies will be instituted in a PPP mode at the Government Engineering College, Barton Hill; College of Engineering, Thrissur; and at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Kottayam. Rs. 2.5 crore has been set aside for this.

Funds from the UGC, the local MLA fund, and from the government will be pooled to set up a college in the Thanoor Assembly constituency. A science city will be set up at Kozha in Kottayam, a regional science centre will be established at Parappanamgandi and at children’s science city, Kalamassery. Rs.25 crore has been allocated for the LBS Integrated Institute of Science and Technology.

A school for Sree Sankaracharya Studies would be set up at the Sree Sankara University of Sanskrit.

A sum of Rs.30 lakh will be given for instituting Ayyankali Centre for Research Studies in Thiruvananthapuram.

A research park will be set up at the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram.