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Education gets a fillip

Our Bureau

New Delhi , March 1

IN keeping with the UPA objective of providing education opportunities to all and creating quality human capital, the Government has announced several initiatives on the education front in this year's Budget. It has decided to promote the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at Bangalore as a centre of excellence in research and development and work towards making this institute a world-class university in a few years. The Finance Minister has proposed an additional Rs 100 crore grant for this purpose.

Also, Mr Chidambaram has announced larger scholarships and private coaching facilities to help meritorious students from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities so that they receive ``top class'' education opportunities.

The three ongoing scholarship schemes for SC/ST students under the Central Plan will continue but a new window is being created to provide an added incentive to these students.

The FM said a short list of institutes of excellence will be notified, and any SC/ST student who secures admission in one of those institutes will be awarded a larger scholarship that will meet the requirements for tuition fees, living expenses, books and a computer.

Besides, the Government will also introduce the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for such students pursuing M Phil and PhD courses in selected universities. Funds for 200 such fellowships per year will be awarded on the pattern of UGC scholarships, beginning this fiscal.

In order to bring minorities more into the development process, a certain percentage of new schools will be opened under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Kasturba Balika Vidyalaya Scheme will be located in districts or blocks that have substantial minority population.

The Government also plans to provide Central assistance for recruitment and posting of Urdu language teachers in primary and upper-primary schools that serve a population in which at least one fourth belong to that language group.

Also, the Finance Minister has proposed to pay the fees of those meritorious students belonging to the minority communities that enrol in selected private institutes for pre-examination coaching.

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