New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday promised to increase public spending on education to 6% of gross domestic product from around 4%, putting special emphasis on education and skill development.
In its general election manifesto, the BJP said that if voted to power, it would set up a national commission on education to devise ways to reform and revise the sector to make India a knowledge hub. The party also intends to implement a national education policy in the context of the changing dynamics of education.
India has to become a knowledge society and build an educated, skilled pool of workers required to meet the challenges of the 21st century, the BJP said. “Unfortunately, the initiatives taken by Congress for this have fallen woefully short, being almost non-starters. We will take up skill development on a mission mode," the manifesto said.
India has a target of providing skills training to 500 million people by 2022, but in the last few years it has failed to keep pace. For example, in 2013-14, the government had set a target of training 7.43 million people in vocational skills, but by the end of January, it had covered only 5.75 million people, according to official data.
The BJP said it will conduct a performance review of flagship programmes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, aiming to reduce illiteracy. A little over 25% of India’s population is still illiterate, according to the 2011 census.
The BJP’s manifesto also promises to universalize secondary education and give priority to reducing the acute shortage of teachers. The party promises “to review and revise...the salary structures associated with the teaching staff". India has a shortage of half a million teachers in schools—in higher educational institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and central universities, the shortage ranges between 20% and 45% of the required faculty strength.
The manifesto also said that the University Grants Commission will be restructured and transformed into a higher education commission rather than just being a grant distribution agency. The party said it will revisit the apprenticeship law to facilitate youth to earn while studying.