While presenting the Budget 2018-19, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that education and health would be the focus areas of the government in the next financial year. Accordingly, several new initiatives were announced to improve access as well as quality of education and health in the country.
The below given analysis of the education and health related initiatives of the Union Budget 2018-19 will be helpful for IAS aspirants in the Prelims, Main examinations in 2018. Aspirants are advised to supplement the below given material with the information given in the Economic Survey 2017-18 and the chapters on ‘Health’ and ‘Education’ in the latest India Year Book.
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Ekalavya Model Residential School
To provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment, new Ekalavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) will be set up. The schools will come up in all the blocks with more than 50% Scheduled Tribe (ST) population and at least 20,000 tribal persons by 2022.
The schools will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture. They also provide training in sports and skill development.
For the first time, Ekalavya Model Residential Schools were approved by the Union Government in September 2013. A total of 158 EMRSs were sanctioned in 23 States out of grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India.
All the facilities for a proper study atmosphere like sufficient number of classrooms, computer and science laboratory, library, recreation room, hostels for students and housing facilities for the teaching and other supporting staff are made available in the EMRSs. Further, the school buildings have been made accessible to students with disabilities.
The objective of EMRS is to provide quality middle and high level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas, not only to enable them to avail of reservation in higher and professional educational courses and as jobs in government and public and private sectors but also to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non-ST population.
Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE)
To step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational and healtha major initiative named ‘‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’’ was announced.
The RISE initiative will be implemented with a total investment of Rs.1,00,000 crore in next four years.
Quality of Eduation
To improve the quality of teachers an integrated B.Ed. programme for teachers will be initiated. Besides, district-wise strategies will be developed to improve the quality of education in the country on the basis of a recently concluded survey of more than 20 lakh children.
Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme
Under this, 1,000 best B.Tech. students will be identified each year from premier institutions and they will be provided facilities to do Ph.D in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), with a handsome fellowship. The scheme will be implemented in the FY 2018-19.
National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS)
The NHPS, which is also called as Ayushman Bharat Scheme, seeks to provide health insurance to poor and vulnerable families across the country. It will cover over 10 crore families or approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.
The scheme will provide coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. The existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) provides an insurance cover of Rs 30,000 per year to poor families. Once it is operational, it will be the world’s largest government-funded health care programme and cover population larger than the combined citizenry of the USA, the UK, Germany and France.
The government will set up 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country. The move would ensure that there would be one medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies or one medical college in every state.
As a percentage in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total expenditure by the Union Government and the State Governments for health and education in the FY 2017-18 is at 1.4 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively. In order to reap demographic dividends, the government must step up investments in the health and education sectors.