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Govt may spend over ₹20,000 crore on 15,000 model schools

New Delhi: The union government may spend over 20,000 crore for converting 15,000 schools into exemplar or model schools over a period of time, the union education minister Ramesh Pokriyal said during a discussion in Lok Sabha Tuesday.

Though the union budget 2021-22 had mentioned about such schools, there was no budget provision for them. And the education minister’s statement in the parliament Tuesday gives a sense of the quantum of money that would be required for it.

“The announcement was done in budget…my sense is the expenditure on them could be between 20,000 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore,” the minister said, but did not give a time line about when the financial allocations will be made.

The minister was speaking about the education budget in Lok Sabha late Tuesday evening in the LOk Sabha.

In the Budget 2021, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed that 15,000 schools to be converted to “exemplar schools” in 2021-22 and 100 Sainik Schools to be established in collaboration with private players.

“More than 15,000 schools will be qualitatively strengthened to include all components of the National Education Policy (NEP). They shall emerge as exemplar schools in their regions, handholding and mentoring other schools to achieve the ideals of the policy,” Sitharaman had said in her budget speech.

The 15,000 exemplar schools is expected to create a pool of quality schools and may be helpful in rolling out the new education policy in a phased manner.

To be sure, the united progressive alliance government had planned to set up 6000 model schools but after six years of deliberation and limited progress, the scheme was shelved in 2015 by the NDA government. Out of the 6,000, the first group of 3,500 were to be built jointly by central and state governments in educationally backward blocks. In fact, the HRD ministry had already sanctioned funds for at least 947 of these schools. The second category of 2,500 schools were planned for the richer blocks, planned on partnering private firms.

While shelving the plan in 2015, the union government had then said that states are free to take this scheme forward or not by themselves.

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