Building a smart education ecosystem in Gujarat: Anil Mukim

Anil Mukim

The Government of Gujarat has taken multiple initiatives to develop a smart and quality education ecosystem in the state, Anil Mukim, Chief Secretary, Gujarat, shares his thoughts on the current state of technical and higher education in the state, in an exclusive interview with the Elets News Network (ENN).

What is the vision of the Government of Gujarat when it comes to achieving excellence in the field of Education in the state?

When it comes to education, the Government of Gujarat is working diligently on its ‘Smart Goals’ with a future vision of ‘Education for All’. The government’s policies are geared to continuously promote state-wide literacy, reduce drop-out rates, improve infrastructure, provide financial assistance to poor students, training students for the development of employability skills, faculty training, improving industry- academia collaboration, and promoting student start-ups, among a series of other initiatives.

Overall, the government’s aim is to achieve Socio-Economic- Education (SEE) growth across the state in the categories of primary, secondary, higher and technical education.

Are there any schemes being implemented to improve the infrastructure of existing Higher Education institutions in the state?

To improve the infrastructure of existing Higher Education institutions in the state, a centrally-sponsored scheme called Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) was launched in 2013. The scheme aims at providing strategic funding to eligible Higher Education institutions in the state. Furthermore, the scheme enables the state to formulate a strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.

The centre’s share in the scheme is 60 percent and the state’s share is 40 percent. Till date, Rs 172.39 crore worth of funds have been disbursed to 227 beneficiary institutes in the state, about 60 percent of which has been utilised by the beneficiary institutes.

What initiatives have been taken to provide financial assistance to the poor but bright students studying in Higher Education institutes of Gujarat?

The Government of Gujarat has taken multiple initiatives to provide hassle-free financial assistance to the bright but poor and needy students of the state. The government has launched a scheme called ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavlamban Yojna’ (MYSY) under which, more than Rs 563 crore worth of scholarships have been disbursed to above 1,45,000 financially poor students in the state.

Similarly, the state government has launched the ‘Mukhyamantri Kanya Kelvani Nidhi’ (MKKN) scheme for students pursuing their MBBS. Under this scheme, more than Rs 48 crore worth of scholarships have been disbursed till date and above 2,200 students have benefited from them.

Furthermore, the Gujarat government had launched the ‘Hon’ble Chief Minister Scholarship Scheme’ in 2014 to provide equal opportunities to meritorious and needy students of the state. In year 2018-19, a total of 959 students were benefited from this scheme after receiving assistance worth Rs 662 lakhs.

To get fully funded, students can avail 50 percent financial assistance from MYSY and remaining 50 percent financial assistance from the Hon’ble Chief Minister Scholarship Scheme.

Is the state government taking any steps for imparting soft skills to young students and graduates to make them industry-ready?

The Government of Gujarat initiated a Finishing School project in the year 2016. It is an employability enhancement initiative of the State Education Department to impart training for skill development in students of Higher and Technical Education of the state to make them Industry-ready. Till the year 2018, a total of 253 government colleges were enrolled in the project and more than 20,100 students had been trained.

Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat (KCG) and National Institute of Technology, Karnataka (NITK) Alumni Association. The areas of collaboration include English Language and Communication Training, Life Skill Training, and Employability Skills Training.

Have any initiatives been taken to improve collaboration between the academia and the industry?

The Gujarat State Education Department had established the Council of Industry Academia Collaboration (CIAC) in 2017 with an aim to fulfill the Industry’s requirement of skilled manpower, to establish linkage between educational institutions and industries, and to conduct collaboration with a focus to improve the overall quality of education as per industrial requirements.

The CIAC incorporates an Internship Development Programme and a Corporate Challenge Programme for start- up, innovation and research. Additionally, the Council works towards providing capacity development and exchange, mentorship, curriculum revision, and placement.

Furthermore, the CIAC has been started to provide the latest tools in learning and research to the teachers and students and to help them in their personal and professional development. Expectations are that it will help in achieving qualitative reforms in teaching and learning, which in turn would give a boost to academic activities.

Have any measures been taken for providing direct placement opportunities to the students of the state?

To provide employment opportunities to students studying in their final year at various Government and Grant in Aid Colleges of Gujarat, the State Education Department had organised a ‘Mega Placement Fair’. The Fair saw participation from 483 institutes and 1,290 companies. Moreover, above 48,000 interviews were conducted and 28,000 students were provided placement at the Fair.