The NITI Aayog will set up 1,000 more Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL), meant to foster innovation, in schools across India by the end of this year to take their total number to around 1,500, a senior official said.
The aim of ATLs is to “disrupt” the existing education system by fostering the spirit of innovation right from the school level, Niti Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant said on Friday.
“India has jumped 21 positions in the global innovation index over the last two years. The objective of these labs is to push innovation culture vigorously at the school level,” he said.
Applications have been invited from all private and government schools for setting up the labs in their premises under the NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission, he said.
“We will select 1,000 schools this year compared to 457 schools last year. If we receive a good number of applications, we are also open to increasing this number further,” he added.
Last year, the programme had received more than 13,000 applications, out of which 457 schools emerged through a competitive process.
For these dedicated work spaces for students from Class VI to XII to acquire innovation skills, develop ideas and build prototypes using state-of-the-art equipment, each school will be given Rs 20 lakh over five years for setting up and running the labs equipped with 3D printers and other advanced equipment.
The planning body is also developing an online monitoring system to ensure on-ground successful implementation of these labs.
The NITI Aayog is also planning to launch Mentor India, a programme to engage leaders who can guide students in these labs, in what is envisaged to be the largest formal volunteer mentor network in India, Kant said.
“The Mentor India mission would invite innovation leaders from the best academic institutions, corporates and other experts to spend few hours every week in these labs and enable students to experience, learn and practice future skills,” he said.
All these measures are intended to create an environment where Indians are equipped to find solutions to the country’s problems like ensuring availability of clean drinking water and 24×7 electricity to every household, he added.