The Centre is eyeing a major push to improve the infrastructure at higher education institutions across the country. Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar has said the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) would make Rs 1 lakh crore available to institutions over the next four years for infrastructure upgrades.
The availability of funds would be implemented under the Centre’s goal to plug infrastructural holes and improve systems in the higher education sector by 2022, Javadekar said. The funding that HEFA is meant to facilitate for higher education institutions would be over and above their budgetary allocations.
The Narendra Modi government had announced the establishment of HEFA in the 2016-17 Union Budget. The goal of the agency is to function as a not-for-profit body that would leverage funds from the market and supplement them with donations and CSR funds. HEFA would make these funds available to institutions as interest-free loans. It has been recognised as a non-banking financial institution (NBFC) by the Reserve Bank of India.
Javadekar’s comments on the HEFA push were part of a press conference he addressed on New Delhi on Monday on the achievements of the Union HRD Ministry over the past four years.
Javadekar claimed that the Ministry had kicked off 33 new initiatives to strengthen the education sector. He said 141 universities, 14 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and one National Institute of Technology (NIT) have been opened during the last four years, when the Narendra Modi government has been in power. He also said 103 new Kendriya Vidyalayas and 62 new Navodaya Vidyalayas have been opened in the last four years.
Javadekar summarised another major initiative, the National Assessment Survey, in which the data was gathered on about 37 lakh students. Terming it the world’s largest such exercise, he said assessments had been carried out of 22 lakh students of Classes III, V and VIII, and 15 lakh Class X students. The educational profile of each district in the country has also been collated and shared with the respective Chief Ministers, MPs and other relevant officials, Javadekar said.