The State Government is providing impetus to education sector as it is one of the top most priorities, roads and health being the other two. 19 per cent of the total State budget is being spent on this vital sector. Efforts are afoot to make Himachal Pradesh the Educational Hub of the country.
The Literacy rate of the State has gone upto 83.78 per cent, which is much more than the national average of 74.04 per cent. Enrolment rate of children between the age group of 6 to 14 years is 99.7 percent and dropout rate has gone down to 0.3 per cent. Rs 9851.54 crore have been spent on education sector during last four years. Rs 3165 crore are being spent during current financial year.
The State Government has decided to provide free uniform to all students in Government Schools from 1st to 10th class standard twice in a year in May and October. He said that the scheme to be implemented from the year has been named as ‘Atal School Uniform Scheme’ and entails an expenditure of Rs.60 crore annually on the State exchequer. The similarity of uniform would abridge the gap between the children and install a feeling of confidence amongst the students of poor families.
96 Middle Schools have been upgraded to High schools and 75 High Schools to Senior Secondary during this period in the State, besides, opening Government Degree College at Haripurdhar in Sirmour district. Government Degree College Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Dharamsala, Kullu, Mandi, Solan and Una have been upgraded as ‘Model Colleges’.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the pioneer States to have enacted ‘Anti Ragging Act’ to ensure that students read in a fear free atmosphere. ‘Anti Ragging Committees’ have been set up in the State for this purpose.
‘Atal Shiksha Kunj’ has been established at Kalu-Jhanda in Solan District, where renowned groups in the field are setting up their educational institutions. One Central University, one Technical University in Government sector, Indian Institute of Technology and National Institute of Fashion Technology have been set up in the State during the period, besides 11 Universities in Private sector have been opened during last four years. ‘Private University (Regulation and Establishment) Act’ has been framed besides setting up of Education Regulatory Commission to ensure that standard of education in the Universities being opened in Private sector is maintained.
As many as 19,251 posts of teachers of various categories have been filled up during last four years. 1000 posts of C&V categories and 5000 posts of teachers are being filled in during this year. Punjabi and Urdu languages are being taught in 100-100 selected schools of the State from the academic session 2008-09. 10 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya have been established in educationally backward blocks.
Under ‘Dr. Ambedkar Medhavi Chatarvriti Yojna’ 4000 meritorious students, (2000 Scheduled Castes and 2000 Backward Classes) are being given scholarship of Rs. 10,000 annually in plus one and plus two classes. 4000 meritorious students of general categories are also being given annual scholarship of Rs. 10,000 each in plus one and plus two classes under ‘Swami Vivekanand Utakrishth Chatarviriti Yojna’.
400 meritorious students of Scheduled Tribes (200 boys and 200 girls) are being given annual scholarship of Rs. 11000 each under ‘Thakur Sen Negi Utakrishth Chhatarvriti Yojna’. The girl students belonging to ‘Balmiki’ families engaged in unclean occupations are being given scholarship of Rs. 9000 each per annum after matric standard to enable them get education at college level. All the girls in the State are being imparted education free of cost upto university level.
Under ‘Protsahan Chattarvriti Yojna’ all students from such areas where no government school exists, and they have to go for study upto five kms, a monthly scholarship of Rs. 200 per month is being given. Those who have to go more than 5 kms. upto 8 kms. are being given scholarship of Rs. 300 per month.
The Government has also given free transport facility to students upto 8 kms from last year to benefit the poor students, especially of poor families. 3,61,565 students belonging to IRDP/OBC/SC/ST families have been provided free text books upto 12th class amounting to 26 crore during last four years.
Two new B.Tech courses in Electronics Communication and Civil Engineering have been introduced in Government Engineering College Sundernagar in Mandi district. 39 Technical Institutes had been opened in private sector in the State during last four years, which includes 14 Engineering Colleges, 7 Pharmacy Colleges and 18 Polytechnics. Diploma Course in Civil Engineering introduced in Polytechnic Institute Talwara, Kangra district. Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Engineering and Technology has been established at Pragatinagar in Shimla District and Hydro Power Engineering College is being opened in Bilaspur district.
In order to ensure better technical education to youth, 11 ITIs have been upgraded as ‘Centre of Excellence’ by spending 32.50 crore. Four new ITIs have opened at Tikkar in district Shimla, Sandhol and Bhadrota in district Mandi and Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district last year.