At a time when nearly 40% of India’s population is in the age group of
6-24 years and when education has been identified as the singular, most
important element in the national developmental effort, the activities
of the Ministry of Human Resource Development are of crucial importance.
Policies, programmes and schemes of the Ministry, consequently, have
been wrought keeping this in view. This Annual Report endeavours to
present the highlights of what has been attempted in 2006- 2007, to take
stock of the present stage of major programmes and schemes and to give
some indication of our proposals for the future.

The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986, as updated in 1992,
envisages improvement and expansion of education in all sectors,
elimination of disparities in access and laying greater access on
improvement in the quality and relevance of education at all levels,
including technical and professional education. It also emphasizes that
education must play a positive and interventionist role in correcting
social and regional imbalances, empowering women and in securing a
rightful place for the disadvantaged, linguistic groups and minorities.

With the vigorous implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and
the cooked Mid Day Meal (MDM Scheme), the number of out of school
children has come down to less than 5% of the total population in the
age group of 6 to 14 years i.e. from 4.4 crores in 2001-02 to 70 lakhs
in 2006.

The Mid Day Meal Scheme was revised in mid 2006. Under the revised
scheme nutritional norms have been raised from the existing 300 calories
and 8-12 grams of protein to minimum 450 calories and 12 grams of
protein per child. To facilitate this, Central assistance towards
cooking cost, has been raised from existing Rs. 1 to Rs.1.50 per child
per school day with mandatory contribution of Re.0.50 per child by
States, making the overall cost norm of Rs.2 per child per day. In the
case of North-Eastern States, the sharing pattern is 90:10 between the
Centre and States.

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme, under which 1000 new schools
have been approved in the year 2006, besides the 1180 approved earlier,
provides residential education to girls predominantly belonging to the
SC, ST, OBC and minority communities. Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), and
Jawahar NavodayaVidyalayas (JNVs) have been recognized as setting the
standards for the secondary education in the country. 50 new KVs and 28
new JNVs have been approved in 2006-07, in addition to the 919 existing
KVs and 539 JNVs.

Following the decision of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE)
in July 2005, two Standing Committees have been set up, on “Literacy and
Adult Education” under the Chairmanship of Prof. Basudeb Barman, MP and
on “Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs” under
the Chairmanship of Shri Vasant Purake, Minister of School Education,
Government of Maharashtra.

In the field of adult education and literacy, out of 600 districts in
the country 597 have since been covered under various programmes – 101
under total literacy campaigns, 171 under post literacy programme and
325 under continuing education programme. About 120.39 million persons
have been covered under literacy programmes as on 31.3.2006. About 60%
of the beneficiaries are women while 22% and 12% belong to Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes respectively.

Access to education is of utmost importance for educational advancement
of disadvantaged sections. The Central Educational Institutions
(Reservation in Admission) Act has, therefore, been enacted and has been
notified in January, 2007 in pursuance of the 93rd Amendment to the
Constitution of India, to provide statutory reservations to SCs, STs and
OBCs in Central Educational Institutions. Necessary resources have been
provided to the Central Educational Institutions, to augment their
intake capacity by 54% in a maximum staggered period of three years in
accordance with the Act, ensuring that reservations would not lead to
any reduction in the seats as were available to unreserved categories
before the coming into force of this Enactment.

The University Grants Commission had been given a Plan Budget of Rs.1269
crore in 2006-07, which was a substantial increase of over 68% over
2005-06 allocations, enabling increased assistance to Universities in
general and the Central Universities in the North East in particular.

Four new Central Universities have been created during 2006 through Acts
of Parliament. Arunachal Pradesh (Rajiv Gandhi National University) and
Tripura University have been converted from State Universities into
Central Universities, while a new University of Sikkim has been created.
The Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages is being
converted into a Central University. Now all States in the North East
have a Central University each. A total of six Central Universities have
been created (including the Allahabad University and Manipur University
which were created by converting the existing State Universities) since
2004.

The seven IITs and six IIMs have served the country extremely well and
have done us proud. It is now proposed to establish 3 new IITs in the
states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. It has also been decided
to establish a 7th IIM at Shillong in the North East. Two new Schools of
Planning and Architecture are also proposed to be started at Vijayawada
and Bhopal. In addition to the existing Indian Institute of Information
Technology at Gwalior, Allahabad and Jabalpur under the Government of
India, a new IIIT (Design and Manufacturing) has been approved to be
established at Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Proposals have been submitted
to the Planning Commission for starting 20 new IIITs so as to cover each
major State. Planning Commission has suggested that these could be
considered under the Public-Private Participation mode.

Erstwhile Regional Engineering Colleges/Government Engineering Colleges
have been converted into National Institutes of Technology (NITs) with
changes in their governance structure. There are 20 NITs at present. In
order to bring all of them under umbrella legislation, the NIT Bill had
been introduced in Parliament.

In order to build scientific research institutions of the highest
standards in which teaching and research at the under-graduate and
post-graduate levels will be undertaken in an integrated manner, two
Indian Institutes of Scientific Education and Research (IISERs) have
been set up at Kolkata and Pune. A third IISER is being set up at Mohali
(Punjab) and two more have been proposed at Bhopal and
Thiruvanathapuram. It is hoped that over a period of time, IISERs will
attain the eminence of IISc, Bangalore and put India in the forefront of
scientific research in the world.

There is an urgent need to revamp Polytechnic education in the country.
The annual intake in polytechnics is approximately 50% of the intake in
the degree level engineering institutions, though this ratio should be
many more times the other way around. An in-principle approval has been
obtained from the Planning Commission to start 54 new polytechnics in
the districts without any polytechnics at present. Also there is a
proposal to strengthen the existing polytechnics in the Special
Identified Districts (SID).

“Sakshat,” a free one-stop portal for education has been launched by His
Excellency, the President of India in October 2006, to address education
and learning needs of students, scholars, teachers and lifelong
learners. There has been a very good response to the “Talk to your
Teacher” facility even upto 11 PM in the night which has been started
since 26th January 2007, to clarify the doubts of the students who are
preparing for their Board Examinations.

Access to education through the Open and Distance Learning system is
expanding rapidly. The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)
now has a cumulative enrollment of about 15 lakh. The University
introduced 16 new programmes during 2006-07. The Distance Education
Council (DEC), an authority of IGNOU, is coordinating the activities of
13 State Open Universities and 119 Institutes of Correspondence Courses
in conventional universities. It is proposed to give independent status
to this Council. National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has
registered 14 lakh learners since inception.

India has been accorded the Guest of Honour Presentation (GHP) status at
the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF), Germany, held in October
2006. The Fair, largest of its kind in the world and held annually in
Frankfurt partners with one country or region for a special
presentation. India has become the only country to be chosen for this
honour twice, the earlier occasion being in 1986. The FBF gave a lot of
visibility to India with the Indian pavilion showcasing nearly 200
publishers and 75 authors from the country, as also giving an
opportunity to the world at large to discover and debate different
aspects of the a vibrant, dynamic and contemporary India.

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HB/SB