This post is a part of #JaatiNahiAdhikaar, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more.
This post is a part of JaatiNahiAdhikaar, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more.
After three years of dodging the post-matriculation scholarship that funds over 60 lakh Schedule Caste (SC) and 20 lakh tribal students of Class 11 and 12, the Centre has finally opted out of it in over 14 states, reported The Economic Times. A PMO meeting was held earlier in November to discuss how the contribution of the Centre’s share in funding the scholarship has declined from 60% to 10%, with the states bearing 90% of the burden. However, it concluded with this 10% share finally sinking into a zero.
The All India Post Matric Scholarship began in 2008-09 to provide financial support to students from minority communities, with a family annual income of less than Rs 2.5 lakh, to complete their education. Financial assistance of Rs 18,000 per annum was being provided to meritorious (i.e. 50% and above in the previous final exam) SC students in Class 11 and 12. For college students, the scheme provided 100% scholarship to SC students and 75% to ST students.
Up until 2017-18, the scholarship was fully sponsored by the Centre and released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE). In April 2018, the Centre asked the states to share the scholarship, under the condition of ‘committed liability’ – i.e. the Centre would release its share of the funding only when the states cough up a certain amount for the scheme. Many states complained about this initial amount being high.
Till 2018, many states complained about the Centre not reimbursing them for the scholarship, and this continued in the following years, even after the states paid the committed liability. States including Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand often took this up with the SJE ministry. In 2016, a total of Rs 8,000 crore were due to be paid by the Centre to various states as arrears of the last two years.
Amid this, students who were promised free education in schools and colleges broke the bank to pay for their college fee, in the hope of getting reimbursed by the government later. Now, they are left with a disheartened future and empty pockets.
To ensure certainty of the flow of funds and reduce the financial burden on the state, the Centre revisited the funding pattern of the scholarship in 2019, in the first 100 days of Modi 2.0. The SJE ministry proposed to change the committed liability pattern to 60:40 (for the northeast, it was 90:10), just like the rest of the Centre-state joint schemes. However, it never got implemented, despite objections from across states.
Amid these objections, however, there have been allegations by the Centre that the funds that have indeed been transferred to the states are either being embezzled or relocated to other projects by the state governments. In the middle of this bureaucratic brawl and blame-game, the only ones suffering are the students, who have been left in the lurch in the middle of their education.