14 States yet to join Centre’s flagship education scheme

An MoU with the Centre mandates National Education Policy implementation; some Opposition-ruled States against MoU, given that PM-USHA scheme has 60:40 funding split between Centre and States, with no extra money for NEP reforms

Updated - August 14, 2023 08:06 am IST

Published - August 13, 2023 11:16 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The MoU, which makes it mandatory for States to undertake the administrative, academic, accreditation, and governance reforms detailed in the National Education Policy, has irked some State governments. Photo: education.gov.in

The MoU, which makes it mandatory for States to undertake the administrative, academic, accreditation, and governance reforms detailed in the National Education Policy, has irked some State governments. Photo: education.gov.in

Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are among 14 States and Union Territories which are yet to sign a crucial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Union Education Ministry, which mandates the implementation of the National Education Policy in order to avail funds worth almost ₹13,000 crore for the next three years, under the Centre’s flagship scheme for State-run higher education.

Officials from several Opposition-ruled States told The Hindu that they have raised concerns about the MoU, given that 40% of the Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (PM-USHA) budget must be borne by the States themselves, and no extra funds have been earmarked for NEP reforms. The Centre says it holding discussions to iron out differences with dissenting States.

‘Better implementation’

PM-USHA is the new name for the Ministry’s scheme to improve the quality of higher education in State Universities — through curricular and programme changes, teacher training, physical and digital infrastructure, accreditation, and enhancing employability — while ensuring equity, access, and inclusion. It provides an outlay of ₹12,926.10 crore between 2023-24 and 2025-26.

The MoU is being signed to show the willingness of States and UTs to participate in the PM-USHA scheme and it will help in the better implementation of the scheme, University Grants Commission chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar told The Hindu. “As on date, 22 States/UTs have signed the MoUs,” he said, adding that discussions are in progress with the 14 remaining States and UTs, to iron out differences and communicate the importance of NEP and PM-USHA. Prof. Kumar, who is also co-vice chairperson of PM-USHA’s National MIssion Authority, said that the scheme has scope to adapt to the differing needs of different States, and even different districts.

‘NEP reforms need more funds’

The MoU — which makes it mandatory for States to undertake the administrative, academic, accreditation, and governance reforms detailed in the NEP, including an academic credit bank, entry and exit flexibility, and the Samarth e-governance platform — has irked some State governments.

“40% of the expenses under PM USHA is borne by the States. To implement the NEP, States need more funds and aid from the Centre. This MoU does not say anything about finding funds for changes envisaged under the NEP,” a senior official from Kerala’s Education Ministry said. Like-minded States are in touch with each other on the matter for a possible joint move on this, the source indicated.

Offering flexibility for States

Prof. Kumar, however, said that multiple consultations had been undertaken before finalising the structure of PM-USHA. “The MoU contains clauses regarding proper planning, implementation and monitoring of the scheme. Commitment on planning and drafting the proposals by the State by aligning it with NEP will lead to integration between NEP and PM-USHA,” he said.

The UGC chairman noted that PM-USHA carries forward the vision of the earlier Rashtriya Uchstar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), to improve the access, equity and quality of higher education in States. “PM-USHA reduces the fragmentation of resources by streamlining the number of [scheme] components to six. More flexibility has been given to States/UTs to undertake activities as per felt needs. Unit costs of some components have been rationalised for tangible outcomes,” he said.

States and UTs have also been given the flexibility to identify their focus districts on the basis of various indicators, such as low gross enrolment ratio, gender parity, population proportion of Scheduled Castes and Tribes. These districts will be prioritised under the scheme to address the diverse needs of each State or UT, Prof. Kumar said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.