“That I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as a Minister for the Union and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”
This oath, taken by me exactly one year back , constantly resonates in my ears and it has been my guiding principle in my work as Union HRD minister. I thank honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trusting me and allowing me to drive change in the landscape of education,for giving me an opportunity to serve 29 Crore Children, 1.08 crore teachers and many people associated with the education system of India. I started my career as a teacher in Saraswati Shishu Mandir, where I learnt that the main focus of learning is to make the hidden ability of a learner, manifest. Post which, I became a minister in Uttar Pradesh cabinet and then the CM of Uttarakhand. Even after entering politics, I had always acknowledged the power of knowledge and made every effort to make education reach the masses.
First Hundred Days : In one of my favourite english poems, Robert Frost said “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep”. These lines always inspired me. Since the citizens of India reposed massive faith in the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, work in the ministry started on Day 1. The ministry had mapped out the ‘Plan of Action’ for the first 100 days; The POA had access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability as the foundational pillars .Landmark legislation ‘Central Educational Institutions (Reservation In teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019 was passed in the first session of the Loksabha. Due to this advertisements have been issued to fill 92 % vacant teacher in Centrally funded Institutes.Multiple schemes for promoting quality education in higher education along with research and innovation were launched in the first 100 days, the schemes include PARAMARSH, ARPIT, STARS, and STRIDE. Further 16 new Kendriya Vidyalayas were inaugurated, foundation stones of 4 new Kendriya Vidyalayas were laid.
Next 200 Days: After 100 days PoA, we set our eyes on the next 265 days plan, With an intention to understand the education sector,I travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting Kendriya Vidyalayas to IIT; interacted with multiple stakeholders – from students, teachers, parents, professors, vice-chancellors and researchers across the country. During this time, my focus was on the finalisation of new education policy, promotion of research and innovation, internationalization and promotion and conservation of Indian languages and Indian knowledge Systems.
The remarkable conceptualization, drafting and implementation of the various schemes and initiatives have helped us achieve great results and a step forwards towards the holistic development of not only students but also teachers. In the year 2019-20, through NISHTHA, 15,37,272 Teachers and 1,69,743 Heads and Principals were trained to improve quality.
To enhance the learning of Talented students, 30 students of the Science group and 30 students of Performing Arts have been trained under DHRUV. DIKSHA is envisaged as “One Nation One Digital Portal” for school education, hosting 95,000 e-content in 15 languages. To smoothen the transition from school to college a student induction program, Deeksharamb was launched and 2,23,012 students have been benefited. For the access of quality yet affordable education to all students of higher education,8 public and 7 Private institutions have been declared as Institutions of Eminence,. 84 educational institutions have availed financial assistance for creation of educational infrastructure and R&D through HEFA. I have also initiated Padhna Likhna Abhiyaan for Adult education, students will now be engaged and encouraged to teach illiterate elderly people of their respective areas.
Last 65 Days: While we were embarking on new heights of achievements in the education sector,Unfortunately, we faced the unprecedented health emergency COVID-19. As one of the largest education systems in the world with 1000 Universities, 45000 colleges, 15 lakh schools, 33 crore students, and more than 1 crore teachers, we are confronted with multiple challenges with the closure of our institutions. However, I believed this is the moment we should work on war footing and ensure that education does not suffer because of crises. The Ministry of Human Resource Development contributed Rs 40 crore to the Prime Minister Care Fund. Multiple webinars and video conferences were held with vice-chancellors, professors, school teachers, students, and parents to address the issues and challenges being faced by them due to lockdown. Manodarpan is being launched to provide psychosocial support to students during and post COVID-19 in a comprehensive and multimodal manner. Compound efforts were undertaken to promote and improvise the digital learning of students which included Bharat Padhe Online Campaign, the launch of Vidya Daan 2.0, and the launch of numerous e-learning courses for students of the school and higher education. I thank Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman for announcing several initiatives to boost the education sector, this included the launch of PM e - Vidya which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education and expansion of e-learning in higher education by liberalizing open, distance, and online education regulatory framework. I am sure that DIKSHA “One nation , one digital platform” and TV’s “one class one channel” will ensure the reach of quality education to the farthest corners of the country.
Next year plans: Soon the Government will be announcing the new education policy which envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India, sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower. Detailed plans in the form of EQUIP and QUEST have been worked out for the implementation of the policy. Also, I assure the children and teachers whom I serve in particular ,that under the dynamic and able leadership of our Prime Minister, HRD ministry is committed to creating a New India, and concerted effort will be made to ensure student's access to quality and affordable education from preschool to Grade 12 to higher education (including vocational education), including achievement of 50% GER in Higher Education by 2030.