GIS – 12 June, 2020: Government is determined to take Mauritius to another phase of development and education is and will remain central in all development, one which revolves around the pillars of inclusiveness, equity and quality and resilience. Budget 2020-2021 makes provision of Rs 15 billion for the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology to secure an inclusive education system fully adapted to the new developmental needs of the economy and the society.
During debates on the National Budget, yesterday afternoon, in the National Assembly, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, highlighted some of the key measures to strengthen the education system and improve education delivery.
According to the Minister, learning continuity is vital and the digital era in education has given rise to a redefinition of the role of teachers and the importance of online learning. During the Covid-19 lockdown period, it was evident that teachers had to use pedagogical approaches and it was done successfully, she pointed out. This also demanded further training and through webinars, around 5000 educators were trained to conduct online programmes, she remarked.
For Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun, the time has come to seize opportunities in making a leap forward for real integration and embedding of online learning in the education system. As such, she said, Budget 2020-2021 makes provision for the creation of a National e-Learning Platform to connect educators of secondary schools with their students. By no means, however, will online teaching replace the face-to-face contact that schools provide for but now we are moving to a new hybrid mode of schooling, she emphasised. The Platform will help in this continuity of education and further enhance the preparedness should there be any resurgence of epidemics, she added.
The National Budget, she further recalled, caters for those who are victims of the digital divide and thus tablets will be provided to needy students and loans will be provided to households including students and educators for the purchase of laptops and IT equipment. Loans of up to Rs 1 M will be provided to private colleges to upgrade their IT infrastructure.
The Minister observed that these measures will facilitate access and improve education delivery and will also allow teachers to move out of a routine and take up a new role as mentor and facilitator. In addition, Budgetary measures 2020-2021 will help in taking Mauritius to the next step of its development as the country needs to have a tech savvy human resource, she added.
Budgetary measures for the education sector are:
- Investment of some Rs 100 M in the deployment of wireless local area network in 155 secondary schools in Mauritius and Rodrigues
- The DBM Ltd will provide financing facilities to households for acquisition of IT equipment for educational purposes
- Investment in the renovation, upgrading and refurbishment of over 70 primary and secondary schools
- An amount of Rs 138 million as the grant-in-aid to NGOs running Special Education Needs (SEN) Schools
- Provision of a one-off grant of Rs 100,000 to each Special Education Needs (SEN) school run by NGOs to help them improve their learning environment.
As Mauritius moves towards a knowledge based and innovation driven economy, capacity has to be expanded, and it is also key to have a greater diversity of courses especially in the fields of new technologies and innovation. Therefore, a comprehensive package of incentives is being provided to encourage the top 500 institutions worldwide to set up branch campuses in Mauritius. They will benefit from: tax holiday for the first eight years of operation; and exemption of tax on IT and IT related materials and equipment for the purpose of online education.
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