Image for representational purpose only
Image for representational purpose only

If Rahul Gandhi becomes PM, students to get more scholarships, teachers and free education

According to the INC manifesto, Rahul Gandhi, if elected, promises to provide free education for all till Class XII and a host of other things

Rahul Gandhi released the Indian National Congress's manifesto for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 and NEET was not the only issue related to education that they addressed. The manifesto mentions that education is a 'merit good' and must be available to all children, free of cost — at least till Class XII. The party promised that school education from Class I to Class XII in public schools shall be compulsory and free with suitable amendments made to the Right to Education Act, 2009. "The State and Central Governments shall be responsible for providing educational opportunities to all children. Schools, colleges and universities shall be, mostly, public institutions funded through public resources. We will end the practice of charging special fees for different purposes in public schools. Private educational institutions may supplement public educational institutions," it read. So it's good news for every kid in the country — we hope.

The Grand Old Party promised to increase the number of scholarships offered to students. Colleges and universities will be encouraged to build endowment funds to support deserving poor students. "We will revive, redesign and expand the Education Loan programme. Applications will be received, examined and sanctioned on a single portal and then assigned to the branch of a bank located near the applicant’s residence or place of study for documentation and monitoring. No interest will be charged during the period of study and until the student finds a job or earns through self-employment. Outstanding interest dues on old education loans as on March 31, 2019, will be waived," it added. But isn't this going to put an enormous burden on the government expenditure? It will. Congress does not clarify how to deal with it though.

Congress proposed that school education should be transferred to the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution while retaining the subject of Higher Education in the Union List. "We are deeply concerned about the quality of education and poor learning outcomes as reported in the Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER)," the party promised to attach the highest importance to learning outcomes.

Rahul's Congress promised to increase the capacity, number and quality of Teacher Training Institutes, "Regulation of Teacher Training Institutes will be the responsibility of the National Council for Teacher Education and their funding will be the responsibility of the University Grants Commission or its successor. A scheme for the periodic and continuing education of teachers will be implemented and teachers will be required to mandatorily participate in the scheme."

Congress aspires to gradually double the allocation for Education to 6 per cent of GDP in the five years ending 2023-24, read the manifesto. "A path forward will be laid down in the regular Budget for 2019-20 and specific annual targets will be set," it read. "College and University education must be funded in multiple ways. We promise to increase the amount earmarked for grants to colleges and universities."

The Right to Education Act brought forth some critical deficiencies in the school systems across the country. Congress promised to provide basic and adequate infrastructure in every school from Class I to Class XII that will include classrooms, library, laboratory, playground, toilets, drinking water, etc. Hostels will also be constructed based on demand, they said.

Congress also said that they would want to increase the number of Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodya Vidyalayas based on demand and with the co-operation of the State Governments. They also accepted that it is a matter of grave concern that a lot of children drop out of school. "We promise to arrest this trend and ensure that every child completes 12 years of school education," read the 55-page-long document. But did not mention the plan of action. "We will increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in Higher Education from the current level of 25.8 to the level of at least 40 in a period of 5 years," it added.

The party said that they would employ technology-enabled teaching methods and technology-driven, personalised and adaptive learning tools in all schools. A lot of children stop with school education. In order to make young India ready for employment or self-employment, the party promised to introduce vocational training as a compulsory component of school education in Classes IX to XII. They also mentioned that they would like to extend their support to the establishment of special schools for children with special needs. 

The INC also promised that they would establish more public universities in the country, especially in under-served areas and also restore the autonomy of colleges and universities. "We will provide The University Grants Commission or its successor with sufficient funds to make liberal grants to colleges and universities, based on need and merit," said the party's manifesto. "We promise to take suitable measures to include Guest, Temporary and Contract Teachers in the regular establishment of Universities," it added.