Scholarships and incentives meant for schools students belonging to Dalit and other backward communities have been put on hold in Haryana due to the pandemic.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, a senior officer of the state government said the scholarships have been put on hold because these are linked to the students’ attendance in their respective classes. “As schools have been closed since March, no scholarships have been disbursed to students. However, we have distributed textbooks,” added the officer.
Haryana Vidyalaya Adhyapak Sangh, a body of government school teachers, on Thursday urged the government to release scholarships and other incentives to eligible students as early as possible.
“Students from poor communities have more need of government incentives during the pandemic because a large number of people have lost their jobs. Not only this, they have to make arrangements for TV or mobile phones to enable themselves to watch the lectures telecast through education channels of Doordarshan,” said Adhyapak Sangh president C N Bharti.
In Haryana, almost 70 per cent government school students belong to underprivileged sections, including Dalits and below poverty line (BPL) families. Upto Class VIII, there are about 8 lakh students, mainly Dalits, from government schools who avail cash incentives under the government schemes. According to officials, almost half of the 52 lakh school students study in government schools in Haryana. Of total 24,000 schools in the state, nearly 14,500 are government schools.
“We give one-time cash incentives to SC students annually sometime after their admissions to the schools so that they can purchase stationary or other related items to pursue their studies. The incentive amount varies for students of different classes, like for students of Class I, it is Rs 980 annually while its Rs 1,250 for class VIII students,” said an official.
Apart from this, there are monthly cash incentives for students belonging to Scheduled Castes, Backward Castes and Below Poverty Line (BPL) which is meant to encourage them to attend classes regularly. “For classes I to V boys from SCs there is a monthly incentive of Rs 150 and while this amount is Rs 200 for classes VI to VIII students. The SC girls from classes I to V get Rs 225 monthly and Rs 300 for classes VI to VIII. This incentive is almost half to students from Backward Castes and BPL families, if it is compared with SC students,” said the official.
There is a third category which is for meritorious students from all communities. Under this category, every class topper gets one-time incentive. It’s Rs 750 for some school classes.
“students can choose either of the scholarships offered by the Haryana government or the central government. But most students prefer Haryana government scholarships because these offer higher incentives than of the central government,” added the official.
C N Bharti said they had raised the issue of non-disbursal of scholarships before Haryana Education Minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar at a meeting held on July 29, where senior officers of the department were also present. “In a letter sent to Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (School Education) Mahavir Singh on Thursday, the Haryana Vidhyalya Adhyapak Sangh reminded how the government has assured to deposit the scholarships in the bank accounts of students concerned. But students are still waiting for the incentives,” added Bharti.
When contacted, Director of State Secondary Education J Ganesan told The Indian Express that the one-time scholarship is normally given during commencement of the academic session. “It will be given for this year also on re-opening of schools. Others are attendance-based scholarships,” he added.
Meanwhile, a senior officer of the Haryana higher education department said they have already disbursed the scholarships meant for government college students of Dalit and Backward Communities, while the process for release of scholarships for students of these communities for private added college is still on. “We have received applications of 28,000 students from private and aided colleges, for which the release of scholarships for 15,000 is almost in the final stage. We release the scholarships of these students only after receiving verification reports regarding their attendance. In case of colleges, the scholarships are released in the next academic year. But now we have sent a proposal to the social welfare department to release the scholarships in every quarter of the ongoing academic year because the students need financial help,” added the officer.
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