The Centre plans to pay students their Right to Education entitlements in the form of cash transfers, as part of a revamp and extension of its flagship school education scheme that was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.
The Samagra Shiksha scheme, which has been extended till March 2026, will have a financial outlay of ₹2.94 lakh crore, including a Central share of ₹1.85 lakh crore, and several new initiatives on early childhood education, foundational literacy and numeracy and language education.
Samagra Shiksha is an integrated scheme for 11.6 lakh government and aided schools with over 15 crore students and 57 lakh teachers. It involves a 60:40 split in funding between the Centre and most States. The Centre’s share now works out to about ₹37,080 crore per year, higher than the amounts allocated over the last three years.
“In order to enhance the direct outreach of the scheme, all child-centric interventions will be provided directly to the students through DBT [or direct benefit transfer] mode on an IT-based platform over a period of time,” said an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting, listing some of the new interventions that have been incorporated in the revamped Samagra Shiksha based on the recommendations of the National Education Policy, 2020.
This DBT would include RTE entitlements such as textbooks, uniforms and transport allowance, Education Ministry officials told The Hindu , although it is not clear whether the tuition fees for students in the economically weaker section quota in private schools would also be paid directly to students as a cash transfer. The stipend for children with special needs will be paid in this mode, officials said.
Keeping with the NEP’s recommendations on encouraging Indian languages, the revamped scheme has a new component for appointment of language teachers, which includes salaries, and training costs as well as bilingual books and teaching learning material.
In accordance with NEP’s recommendation on pre-primary education, Samagra Shiksha will now include funding to support pre-primary sections at government schools, both in terms of teacher training as well as ₹500 per child per year for teaching and learning materials, indigenous toys and games and play-based activities. Master trainers for pre-primary teachers and anganwadi workers will be supported under the scheme.
Another new component is the NIPUN Bharat initiative for foundational literacy and numeracy, which will get an annual provision of ₹500 per child for learning materials, ₹150 per teacher for manuals and resources and ₹10-20 lakh per district for assessment.
As part of digital initiatives, there is a provision for ICT labs and smart classrooms, including support for digital boards, virtual classrooms and DTH channels which have become more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is likely to cause more school dropouts as well, so it is important that Samagra Shiksha now includes a provision to support out of school children from age 16 to 19 with funding of ₹2000 per grade to complete their education via open schooling. There will also be a greater focus on skills and vocational education, both for students in school and dropouts, said Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is also the Minister for Skill Development.
In an Olympic year, the Samagra Shiksha scheme announced an incentive of up to ₹25000 for schools that have two medal-winning students at the Khelo India school games at the national level.