Gujarat hikes education outlay, 10,000 virtual classrooms planned

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Gujarat hikes education outlay, 10,000 virtual classrooms plannedAhmedabad, July 3 (IANS) The Gujarat government plans to create as many as 10,000 virtual classrooms in its schools among a slew of measures to upgrade information technology-based education, as part of highest-ever allocation of over Rs 30,000 crore for the sector.

Finance Minister Nitin Patel, who presented his seventh budget to the tune of over Rs 2,00,000 crore in the Assembly here on Tuesday, had stated the government has put renewed stress on education and health sectors in the current year and this would continue in the future.

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Among the allocations, Rs 103 crore has been earmarked for setting up 10,000 virtual classrooms in government schools across the state and Rs 100 crore for other IT-related initiatives in primary education.

The government plans to focus on robotics and Artificial Intelligence among its initiatives for higher education and has set aside Rs 50 crore for the purpose. This is besides an allocation of Rs 252 crore for distribution of computer tablets for first year college and polytechnic students.

With a view to address the issue of falling school dropout rate, Rs 124 crore has been provided for transportation facilities to 1.34 lakh children studying in government schools located a kilometer or more from their residence. This is besides other measures to provide education to those children who never have been to school as well as improve attendance, and also hold bridge courses for them.

The government has allocated Rs 1,015 crore to provide fresh and nutritious food to over 43 lakh school children up to class 8 under the mid-day meals scheme, besides ‘Dudh Sanjivani’ and ‘Anna Triveni Yojana’. The budget for the education sector also makes a special provision of Rs 46 crore to provide differently-abled children the necessary equipment as well as for therapy.

The Finance Minister has made a major provision of Rs 370 crore to provide financial assistance for fees for 79 lakh students pursuing primary to higher education under the ‘Mukhya Mantri Yuva Swavalamban Yojna (Chief Minister’s youth self-sufficiency scheme)’.

With a focus on education of the girl child, Rs 80 crore has been provided for free education, hostel and mess facilities for them. Around 15,000 such students enrolled in 151 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalayas will benefit under this.

The Finance Minister has earmarked Rs 341 crore under the Right to Education Act, wherein the government pays Rs 3,000 per student for the fees and uniform. So far, 2.7 lakh students have benefitted from this.

The government also plans to build 5,000 new classes in primary schools to cover 1.5 lakh students with a provision of Rs 454 crore. An allocation of Rs 206 crore has also been made for new buildings in 42 government colleges and universities, besides Rs 196 crore for repairs and maintenance.

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