Amaravati:With the aim to narrow the gap between government and private schools, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy launched a slew of initiatives this year.

The measures included providing incentives to mothers who send their children to school, revamping of government schools with necessary infrastructure at par with private institutions, providing nutritious midday meal scheme under Jagananna Goru Muddha, supplying uniforms, bags, and book to students, reimbursement of fees, and preparing young children for school by introducing pre-primary 1 and 2 in Anganwadis.

Introducing English medium in primary level was welcomed by a whopping majority of parents' committees while detractors have been contending otherwise. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the academic year, the welfare schemes did not stop and rolled on as scheduled.

AP government's schemes to provide equal access to education

The state government's Mana Badi-Nadu Nedu programme aims to revamp, rebuild, and recreate the government schools, Anganwadi centres, and colleges. In the first phase, 15,715 government schools will be renovated and will be equipped with fans, blackboards, water purifiers, cupboards, and other infrastructure. All the schools will get 10 facilities, including compound walls, toilets, and English labs. The remaining 31,073 will be revamped in the second and third phases and they will be ready by March 2022. Anganwadi centres that will double up as pre-primary 1 and 2 will also get a facelift.

Jagan has emphasised on stress-free education and focus on building a healthy learning environment for the students. To inculcate reading habits among students he started the 'We Love Reading' campaign. The one-year reading fluency campaign will take place in four phases - preparatory, foundation, advanced, and valedictory - to improve the reading skills of children from classes III to IX.

Under Jagananna Gorumuddha, nutritious food will be given to 40 lakh students in 45,484 government and aided schools. The salary of those cooking and providing midday meal was increased from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000.

Meanwhile, under Jagananna Vidya Kanuka scheme, school kits were provided to children up to class X. The kits include uniforms, books, shoes, socks, belt, and school bag and were distributed to 42.3 lakh students at a cost of Rs. 650 crores.

The Jagananna Vidya Deevena scheme was launched to reimburse fees. It benefited 14 lakh college-going students. Also, Rs. 4,000 crores were credited into the students' mothers' bank accounts besides providing Rs. 1,880 crores towards pending dues.

The Jagananna Vasathi Deevena scheme took care of the hostel and mess charges payable up to Rs. 20,000 per student annually. The scheme cost Rs. 2,300 crores and benefit 11 lakh students.

The state will start 30 skill development centres along with a high-end IT Skill University in Visakhapatnam. Each parliamentary constituency will have one skill development centre and four centres will be set up in collaboration with the four IIITs and one centre will be attached to Pulivendula JNTU.

The IT Skill University will train students on Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and other modern courses. With regard to developing and designing the skill development curriculum, the state government has partnered with four international institutes - Singapore Polytechnic, Van Hall Larenstein (University of Applied Studies), GIZ, and Department for International Development – to set up lab infrastructure in the skill development centres. Towards this end, 23 reputed organisations including Dell, Tata, HP, IBM, and Biocon have signed MoUs with the government.

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