During his Budget 2018 speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley emphasised on education and the importance of good teachers that inevitably impacts the quality of education. In the same vein, he announced the Prime Minister's Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme. Under this scheme, the minister said, 1,000 bright B. Tech students from some of the best schools would be picked for an opportunity to pursue their Ph.D from IITs and IISc. These students would also be provided with a "handsome fellowship".
The finance minister also mentioned that these students would, however, be expected to put in a few hours every week to teaching in higher educational institutions.
This announcement is in tandem with what the Finance Minister had said only a few minutes earlier. "Improvement in quality of teachers can improve the quality of education in the country," Arun Jaitley had said. Not only the PMRF scheme, but an integrated B. Ed programme would also be initiated. "Training of teachers during service is extremely critical," he further added. The minister also said that they had amended the Right to Education Act to enable more than 13 lakh untrained teachers to get trained.
Apart from these, the Finance Minister also announced the launch of digital portal DIKSHA that will help in enhancing the skills of teachers. He further stated that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School. The minister also spoke about Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022 that will help in investments in research and related infrastructure. Moreover, two new full-fledged Schools of Planning and Architecture were announced.
The Finance Minister also declared a Railways University at Vadodara where the workforce of high-speed railway projects would get trained.
"We have managed to get children to school but the quality of education is still a cause of serious concern. We have now defined learning outcomes and National Survey of more than 20 lakh children has been conducted to assess the status on the ground. This will help in devising a district-wise strategy for improving quality of education. We now propose to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12," the minister said.