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Till When Will Faulty Policies Keep Dalit-Adivasi Students From Quality Education?

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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.

With the ever-going tussle and the blame-shifting between the central and the state government, why is it that a young mind always struggles to achieve quality education?

The All India Post Matric Scholarship was started in 2008-09 to provide students from marginalized communities belonging to SC/ST households with financial support with a family annual income of less than Rs 2.5 lakh. It was an initiative to increase their engagement in higher education.

Many of the students in this fiscal are PMS beneficiaries, a scholarship fund that almost ended due to the union only funding 11% and the ever- going blame-shifting between the centre and state government.

We, the members of TISS Students’ Union 2019-20, unreservedly condemn the arbitrary and unethical action of TISS administration is withholding the access for viewing the semester-end result by students of the graduating batch of 2020 on account of dues not being cleared. Furthermore, this has been followed by a complete lack of transparency in additional charges being levied on the students.stated the student body in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Holding Back Results Due To Non-Payment Of Fees During Covid Might Not Be A Godo Step

These are  the words of solidarity we hear from today’s young minds who stand together no matter the caste, class, race, gender, etc., to show their dismay against institutions who failed to provide the marginalized groups with proper education tools to empower and uplift them.

With India in its COVID-19 phase and uncertainty at its peak, was holding back results due to non-payment of fees a reasonable step? Many of the students in this fiscal are PMS beneficiaries, a scholarship fund that almost ended due to the union only funding 11% and the ever- going blame-shifting between the centre and state government. Leading to the state government to fulfil the committed liability and many of them discontinuing the scheme.

The scheme has played an important role in including and increasing Dalit and Adivasi community engagement in higher education post-independence.

Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities also introduced the post-matric scholarship, which aims to help students with disabilities to pursue higher education.

Central Government Revises Changes

But with non-payment of fees and the tussle between the governments, it is the dreams and aspirations of plenty of students across India which is suffering the most.

It is recently that the central government revised changes in the scheme. The union will now fund 60% towards the program, which is estimated at ₹35,534. The state government shall provide the rest 40%.

With funds, the cabinet also came up with revisions in the scheme. One such is that a campaign will be launched to enrol students from the economically deprived households after passing Class 10 in the higher studies of their choice, an official said. (source: the print)

In addition to this, the scheme will be run on an online platform with cybersecurity measures that would assure transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delays.” said a second senior government official.

Outcomes of the scheme will be evaluated through the conduct of social audits, annual third-party evaluation, and half-yearly self-audited reports from each institution,” the official added, source: (the print, December 23, 2020)

The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ annual 2019-20 report mentions that the state governments are responsible for identifying and verifying beneficiaries and ensuring timely disbursement of their scholarships.

Funds assigned by the central government have not met the growing requirements of the states, as per the CAG report. Most importantly, no proper implementation of these schemes has failed and delays leaving the students paying the same price.

Governments Should Step Up To Take Care Of Students Under Scholarship To Ensure Their Continued Education

This lack of implementation clearly affected the engagement of the Dalit Adivasi community in the educational field.

In a report for PMS -scheme, it was stated that in the case of PMS-SC, the number of beneficiaries has fallen from 5.8 million in 2016-17 to 3.3 million people in 2018-19. In PMS-ST, the number of beneficiaries has gone down from 2 million in 2015-16 to 1.85 million in 2017-18, whereas the budget remains the same.

In TISS, with the student’s initiative and with social media’s help, the students paid their fees through crowdfunding. With such uncertainty especially, it is the sole responsibility of both the central and the state govt to take care of the students under scholarship to learn and feel empowered.

Lack of implementation and reports identifying several loopholes put a question mark as to when will these students receive their timely education scholarship? Can the new revisions of the Centre fill these identified loopholes?

Featured Image Source: Canva
Image is for representation purposes only.

Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Jaati Nahi, Adhikaar Writer’s Training Program. Head here to know more about the program and to apply for an upcoming batch!

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Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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