The government on Wednesday announced “transformatory changes” to the Post Matric Scholarship for students from Scheduled Castes.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the changes, which, the government said, will “benefit more than 4 crore SC students in the next 5 years so that they can successfully complete their higher education”.
Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said that the government has decided that the share pattern will be 60 per cent from the Centre and 40 per cent from the state.
“The result will be that till now we annually gave Rs 1,100 crore, an average that we have calculated for the last three years, but now we will give more than five-fold,” he said.
The Centre’s assistance, which was around Rs 1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20, would be around Rs 6,000 crore annually during the 2020-21 to 2025-26 period, the government said in a statement.
The statement said that under the revised scheme, there will be a total investment of Rs 59,048 crore, of which the Centre will spend Rs 35,534 crore.
Under the scheme, the government provides financial assistance to students from Scheduled Castes, whose household incomes are less than Rs 2.5 lakh annually, for higher education at post-matriculation and post-senior-secondary stages, which means Class XI onwards.
The Centre is committed to give a big push to this effort so that General Enrolment Ratio in higher education of Scheduled Castes “would reach up to the national standards within the 5 year period”, the statement said.
The government intends to bring students from Scheduled Castes who dropped out of the education system due to financial challenges back into the system.
It will launch a campaign “to enrol the students, from the poorest households passing the 10th standard, in the higher education courses of their choice”, it said. The statement added that an estimated 1.36 crore “such poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standards would be brought into the higher education system in the next 5 years”.
There will be an online platform with robust cyber security measures and states will undertake fool-proof verification of the eligibility, caste status, Aadhaar identification and bank account details on the online portal, the statement said.
Unlike earlier, when funding was passed through state governments, financial assistance to students will now be made through Direct Beneficiary Transfer mode — students will receive the Centre’s share as soon as the state transfers its share “as per fixed time schedule”, the statement said.
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