Students — the future knowledge pool and skill base of the country — are a prime focus for the Centre, evident from the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and its tailormade initiatives for the post-pandemic world.
School closures and lockdowns have thrown up various challenges to education, with students steadily dropping out owing to financial crises or technological issues. The Indian government offers a number of scholarships, free courses, training, digital repositories and other essential support to encourage students to complete their education.
Here’s looking at some of the Centre’s major initiatives.
Scholarships and awards
Lilavati Award: Organised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), this award recognises efforts to create awareness against gender discrimination, illiteracy, unemployment, human rights, and economic and nutritional disparities among others.
Teams comprising either students, faculty or both from AICTE-approved institutes can apply under various subcategories such as women’s health, self-defence, sanitation and hygiene, literacy, women’s entrepreneurship and legal awareness. A total of 18 winning teams will be selected, with the winner getting a prize money of Rs 1 lakh, the first runner-up getting Rs 75,000 and the second runner-up Rs 50,000.
Visit the official website for more details.
UDAAN: Initiated by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) under the aegis of the Union education ministry, the UDAAN scheme enables girl students from underprivileged, minority and reserved category backgrounds to transit from school-level to professional-level education, specifically in science and mathematics.
The scheme includes pre-loaded tablet PCs with tutorials, videos and study materials; virtual contact classes at 60 designated centres; orientation, mentoring, assessment and feedback sessions; helpline services for clearing doubts; and motivational sessions with students and parents.
Class XI girl students from the Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics stream enrolled in Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, government schools of any recognised board or CBSE-affiliated private schools can apply for the scheme.
Visit the official website https://cbseportal.com/UDAAN for more details or contact: email@example.com.
PRAGATI: This scholarship programme by AICTE empowers 5,000 girl students to further their technical education every year. Recipients are given Rs 50,000 each for payment of college fees, purchase of books, equipment and devices.
First-year students of an AICTE-approved college are eligible to apply on the national scholarship portal, provided their annual family income is not more than Rs 8 lakh. Selection will be based on engineering entrance exam merit.
SAKSHAM: Also from the AICTE stable, this scholarship offers support to specially abled students. A total of 1,000 candidates will be given Rs 30,000 per year as tuition fees, with an additional Rs 2,000 for the first 10 months each year as incidental charges.
Specially abled first-year students pursuing technical degree or diploma programmes at AICTE-approved institutions, with no less than 40% disability, can apply for the scholarship. Their annual family income should not exceed Rs 8 lakh. Selection will be based on engineering entrance exam merit.
Ishan Uday: This is a special scholarship programme by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for students of the North-East Region (NER). A grant amount ranging between Rs 5,400 and 7,800 per month is given to as many as 10,000 candidates every year to pursue general degree, technical and professional courses, including medical and paramedical programmes.
Candidates who have passed Class XII or equivalent exams from a school in NER and are in the first year of a general degree, technical or professional course in any recognised university or institution are eligible to apply at the official portal. Their annual family income should not exceed Rs 4.5 lakh.
Utility platforms and portals
SWAYAM: The Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) programme has been launched to offer free courses by professors of centrally funded institutions including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other central universities to students across the country.
SWAYAM offers various courses to students of Class IX till post graduation through interactive video lectures, reading material, self-assessment tests and online discussion forum for doubt clearance. These courses are prepared by more than 1,000 faculty members from across the country.
Students can get a SWAYAM certificate by registering with a minimal fee and appearing for a final proctored exam at designated centres.
National Digital Library of India (NDLI): It’s an all-inclusive digital library with digital content, including books, articles, videos, audios, thesis and other relevant materials for different educational levels.
Sponsored and mentored by the Union education ministry’s National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), NDLI also provides exam preparatory content for school and college students as well as job aspirants. It is designed to store content in any language and provide interface support in 10 most widely used Indian languages.
DigiLocker: A flagship initiative by the Union ministry of electronics and information technology, the platform ensures issuance and verification of digital documents and certificates, replacing the use of physical paper works. It is an online repository where users get a dedicated cloud space on registration with Aadhaar number.
Registered organisations can directly transfer the users’ documents such as mark sheets, transfer certificates and other school and college certificates to their respective lockers. Both ICSE and CBSE students can digitally access their certificates through Digilocker.
Visit the official website to register.
Courses and training
Spoken Tutorial: It is an educational content portal launched under the Union education ministry’s information and communication technology (ICT) scheme. Developed by IIT Bombay, the portal gives learners access to knowledge of various free and open source softwares, with engaging digital content starting from basic to advanced level.
It has lessons for various disciplines including engineering, pure sciences and other undergraduate and postgraduate-level programmes. Through the portal, IIT Bombay offers more than 75 basic and specialised courses covering general IT skills, Programming, Web Development, Multimedia, Mathematics, Sciences, and Industrial Process Simulation among others.
Visit the official website to take a course.
India International Skill Centre (IISC): This initiative was developed by the Union ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship under the Skill India mission to trainings and certification benchmarked to international standards.
IISCs have been set up by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) where candidates will be trained in international standards and pre-departure orientation training (PDOT), with career guidance and training in accordance with foreign employment requirements through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Candidates will be awarded joint certification of Indian Sector Skill Councils and international awarding organisations, apart from employment opportunities through agencies approved by the Union ministry of foreign affairs.