The 2025 deadline set up by the Centre under National Education Policy for ensuring every Class 3 child has foundational literacy and numeracy has been pushed back by two years. The new deadline is for the year ending 2026-27, and the Centre reasoned it by saying that two academic years have been wasted owing to the pandemic.
The Hindu reported that the School Education Department has stated that no additional funding had been allocated for the National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat). Alternatively, money is allocated from the flagship Smagra Shiksha Scheme, which saw a 20 per cent drop in its budget allocation in 2021.
An Education Ministry official said in a statement that the vision of NIPUN Bharat Scheme is to create an enabling environment to ensure universal acquisition so that every child can reach the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy till grade 3, by the end of academic year 2027.
Smagra Shiksha Scheme
Smagra Shiksha Scheme is an umbrella scheme that has been revised again this year, according to which a certain amount has been allocated to foundational literacy and numeracy. The budget allocation for the scheme in 2019-2020 was ₹ 38,750 crore, whereas, in 2020-2021, there was a 20 per cent drop in the allocated money at ₹ 31,050 crore.
A non-governmental organisation named Central Square Foundation has provided technical support to the Centre in developing this mission. According to their estimate, ₹500 per child per year would amount to the yearly cost of ₹ 2,200 to ₹ 2300 crore nationwide. NIPUN Bharat's direction to the states regarding how the allocated money must be utilised will be critical.