Starting this year, the Bihar government will transfer the benefits of education schemes such as scholarships and school uniforms, as well as social welfare schemes such as old age and widow pensions, directly to the beneficiaries to reduce red tape and the possibility of mid-level officials pocketing part of the benefits.
Over 70,000 state schools have been asked to get bank accounts opened for their students by the middle of January. Uniforms and scholarships are distributed every January.
The state cabinet cleared the proposal Tuesday, aiming to save time, cut down corruption and ensure 100 per cent compliance. “These transfers will be done using the NEFT process, which will save a lot of time,” said Brajesh Mehrotra, principal secretary (cabinet). Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been insisting on use of technology in governance ever since he first came to power in November 2005.
Until now, the beneficiaries of such schemes were being given cash routed through a long process. The health and education departments transfer money to the heads of these departments in the districts. Every school sends a request as per its enrolment and minimum attendance of students to to get the money from the district welfare officer.
“All schools have been asked to get students to open bank accounts and submit the details. If a student’s account is not opened, their parents’ accounts will do,” said an education department official.
A bank manager explained, “A student above the age of 10 can operate his or her account while students below 10 can open an account but this will have to be operated by their parents.”
For schools, the government order brings the challenge of opening up to 25 million bank accounts for students from 69,500 primary and middle schools and 4,500 secondary and higher secondary schools. “The first job is to make parents aware of this and get them ready to open accounts,” said Raj Kumar Singh, a teacher at a Munger school. “We are issuing identity cards to facilitate the opening of accounts but arranging for residential certificates will take time.”
For parents, the new government order means they will no longer have to approach school authorities every January. Some parents The Indian Express spoke to suggested that the education department talk to banks to simplify their norms, and to ask schools to mention students’ address on their identity cards,
For purchasing a bicycle, a class-IX student gets Rs 2,500. Under the school uniform scheme, students of classes-I and -II gets Rs 400, those of III to V get Rs 500, those of VI to VIII Rs 700 and those of IX to XII Rs 1,000. Additionally, girls from VII to XII get Rs 150 a year for napkins.counts of schoolkids, direct deposit of pensions too.