This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by aashika shivangi Singh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Post-Matric Scholarships: Why Are Girls From SC, ST and OBC Communities Underrepresented In Institutions?

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.

“Being in a girls college of a central university, in my undergrad class of 60 students, not more than 20 students are from marginalised communities.”

A report of the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2016-17 reveals that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher educational institutions for women at the all-India level is 24.5%, whereas for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes females, the ratio is 20.2% and 14.2% respectively. It clearly shows the lesser representation of women from marginalised communities in higher educational institutions. There are various reasons for it as women of these communities fight the double oppression of caste and gender together as compared to women coming from the so-called upper caste, privileged background.

First, they face several types of discrimination in their personal spheres because of gender bias, have to prove themselves in several fields, and then make themselves enter these institutions. The most constant problem is finance. In higher institutions, fees have been increasing year-by-year. Institutions of higher education such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, All India of Medical Sciences and some central universities have raised their fees. 

According to a report by, “The fee of IITs has  been increased twice in the last two years. Recently, a 900% hike in fee for M.Tech courses was announced by the Council of IITs. The tuition fees, which was between Rs 20,000-50,000, was increased to Rs 2 lakh.”

India Today reported on December 19, 2019, that fee for IIMC has been increased by over 100% across journalism courses and regional language courses respectively over the past decade.

These have been some instances of fees hike in higher education institutions. Students coming from marginalised communities can’t afford such an amount of fees, so the dropout ratio has also increased. According to Sudarshan Kasbe in, ”Out of the total students enrolled for higher education, those from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes accounted for 14.89% and 5.53% respectively.” 

Even in my university, the University of Delhi, among students admitted to the undergraduate courses in 2019, more than 60% students belong to the unreserved category. Compared to this, only 3% students each have been admitted under the ST and Economic Weaker Sections (EWS) categories for which a reservation of 7.5% and 10% has been allotted, according to the university’s bulletin of information.

Among Scheduled Caste students, while 15% reservation has been allotted, only 10.94% students have been given admission. On the other hand, for Other Backward Castes (OBC), for whom 27% has been allotted, 20.96% students have been admitted.

This is the data of all students together from the SC, ST and OBC category in Delhi University, but there is no recorded data that mentions women students from these three reserved sections. This is another reality they don’t want to reveal about higher institutions as if it would reveal how they aren’t fully implementing reservation in institutions to people.

To increase the GER of students from marginalised communities, the government waives the fees of such students, provides scholarships as well to increase their participation, giving them opportunities for their representation. 

One beneficiary student of my college (a girls college) from such scholarship schemes stated: “For higher studies, students from marginalised communities get post-matric scholarships from the central government that begin from Class 11 and go on till one wants to study.”

Furthermore, they talked about problems that students face in accessing these schemes that they find hectic. And what is even more effortful is finding scholarship schemes by themselves on Google and then applying for such schemes. Colleges notify about this scheme to the students in the middle of the semester when they are overburdened with loads of assignments. Students get puzzled in such situations — whether to write assignments first or knock the door of the administration again and again to ask about the particulars while filling scholarship forms.

I also got to know that colleges do provide scholarships, but only on the basis of merit and to fewer students who are also not-so-strong financially and they are from or can be of any category. 

Representative image.

Generally, students have to make so much effort to get these scholarships — they fill forms without any parental help, they travel to their cities as the various forms are to be attached with scholarship forms that the administration doesn’t ask at a time but in layers of time. In the administration office, there is only one desk for such stuff, and a lot of students to fill such forms. A lot of their time is taken, which affects their studies as well. Students also have to confirm as well about their forms acceptance.

Teachers just go away with “contact that mam, contact this sir,” but don’t help with their own. With such a hectic, time-taking procedure that these students go through, these institutions judge us on economic basis and discriminate us on the basis of caste. 

They talk about reservation and fee waiver only on an economic basis. In my experience, I don’t get any fee relaxation in my college. I pay as much as any other student from the unreserved category. This is because my economic condition is noticed first. However, I got to listen taunts about reservation and my caste identity. 

These scholarship schemes give little support to women from marginalised communities, but not so much. A few thousand rupees in a year or month can’t support an individual in institutions with high fee and an economy in inflation. According to Protiva Kundu in, “Between 2014-15 and 2019-20, the share of education expenditure in the total union budget has  fallen from 4.1% to 3.4%.”

It is clearly showing that whatever little help these scholarships were giving to students from marginalised communities is being taking away from them by the current regime. These are collective efforts by this system to maintain the hierarchy of caste system in which people from marginalised sections don’t get education. 

Another report on January 31, 2020 by Provita Kundu stated that, “In the number of beneficiary students of Post-matric scholarship scheme across India, SC students has been consistently under funded, beneficiaries decreased from 5.8 million in 2016-17 to 3.3 million in 2018-19.” 

Women from marginalised communities in such higher educational institutions are fighting against Brahminism, casteism and elitism together in their daily lives. On how many costs can we make up to these institutions that offer us discrimination in return?

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!

This post is part of theJaati Nahi, Adhikaar Writers' Training Program, 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 and apply.

You must be to comment.

More from aashika shivangi Singh

Similar Posts

By Prityush Sharma

By Parveen

By ginju mathew

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below