With the Covid-19 outbreak exposing a digital divide in education, the HRD Ministry has projected an expenditure of Rs 60,000 crore over five years to provide digital devices to four crore students in higher education.
The HRD Ministry made this projection in a presentation to the 15th Finance Commission Monday. The Commission had called the meeting to discuss education “in the time of Covid-19”.
The department of higher education has proposed to provide devices such as laptop and tablet computers, mobile phones and television sets to almost 40% of the students enrolled in colleges and universities by 2025-26.
Currently, there are about 3.75 crore students enrolled in higher education institutions. In the first year, that is 2021-22, it plans to cover 1.5 crore students, followed by 55 lakh in 2022-23, 61 lakh in 2023-24, 67 lakh in 2024-25 and 73 lakh in 2025-26. The ministry has assumed an average cost of Rs 15,000 for each digital device.Coronavirus Explained
Of the Rs 60,000 crore, the union government’s share is pegged at Rs 36,473 crore over five years. The remaining is proposed to be borne by the state governments, according to the ministry’s presentation.
Given that even after it is deemed safe to return to the classroom, it won’t be a return to what was considered normal, the ministry has also sought funds to develop more content for online learning. An additional Rs 2,306 crore has been asked to develop courses for the ministry’s educational channel (SWAYAM Prabha) and MOOCs platform till 2025-26.