Scholarships to promote science education

Scholarships to promote science education

The Centre, in partnership with higher secondary boards, will reach out to the top 1  per cent science students in each board, briefing them on a career in science research. Those who will study natural sciences will receive an annual scholarship of Rs 80,000 for five years in which they can complete their graduation and masters. There will be assured career opportunity for them if they want to continue with higher studies even after the masters.

The Department of Science and Technology launched its Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) scheme in 2008 to bring back students in natural sciences from engineering and computer sciences streams. However, the scheme received a lukewarm response.

The programme had provisions for 10,000 scholarships for under-graduate students. But only 4,500 were awarded last year. In view of this, the DST joined hands with the state and central higher secondary boards to reach out to the science students in each board assuming many may not  be aware of the scheme.

Also to arrest the number of dropouts among the top 1  per cent due to financial reasons, the government decided to release the money to such students in advance, DST secretary T Ramasami told Deccan Herald. The decisions were taken in a recent meeting between DST officials and representatives of 30  state and central boards .

“Only 12 per cent of students admitted to schools made it to the colleges. Almost half of the students enrolled in schools do not go beyond class five. We need to reverse the trend,” Union Science Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said. The government has allocated Rs 640 crore for INSPIRE in the 11th Plan, which may  go up to Rs 3,000 crore in the 12th Plan.

The hike in the scholarship will be a part of the Centre’s plan to increase the science budget from 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product in the current plan to 0.6 per cent of GDP in the 12th Plan, said Minister of State for Science and Technology Ashwini Kumar.

The government will intensify its efforts to reach out to school students. It plans to cover each of 4.5 million schools and give at least two INSPIRE awards—one-time Rs 5,000 cash award, participation in science camps and exposure to renowned scientists—to young learners so that the seeds of science learning can be planted in young minds.

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