Centre may recast pre-matric scholarship scheme

Centre may recast pre-matric scholarship scheme

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In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections next year, the Modi government is contemplating restructuring a pre-matric scholarship scheme to ensure that “a larger population” of the school children amongst the other backward classes (OBCs) are benefited by it.

To start with, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is in the process of engaging an independent agency by the middle of December to conduct an evaluation of the extent and outcome of the implementation of the scheme in the past 19 years.

The centrally-sponsored scheme of the pre-matric scholarship for the OBC students was formulated in 1998-99. This is the first exercise to be conduced to evaluate the implementation of the scheme since then.

According to an official note of the ministry, the study will identify whether the scheme reaches out to those among the OBCs "who are in dire need of it" or such students who would have “otherwise” been able to continue their school education.

It will also examine “the extent of the appropriation of the benefits of the schemes by multiple beneficiaries in the same family over generations.”

The study will identify “the representative sample” of the households of the OBC parents having children for participation in classes I and X. It will also assess “the present status of the parents” of the OBC students covered under the scheme.

Under the scheme, the scholarships are currently awarded to students whose parents income from all sources does not exceed Rs 1 lakh per annum.

The current rate of scholarship is Rs 100 per student (classes I to X) for 10 months in case of days scholars while it is Rs 500 per student for 10 months for hostellers. Besides, an ad hoc grant of Rs 500 per student is also given to all the OBC students under the scheme.

The study will assess the need to revise the current parental income ceiling and examine the adequacy of the assistance provided to students under the scheme. It will also identify "ghost beneficiaries."

The study will be conducted at 100 select districts, covering 13 states including Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Karnataka has the highest number of the beneficiaries (over 16 lakh) of the ministry's pre-matric scholarship scheme, followed by Punjab (over 7.50), Maharashtra (nearly 6 lakh), Rajasthan (over 4.20 lakh), West Bengal (nearly 3 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (93,000) and Andhra Pradesh (49000), according to statistics with the ministry for 2016-17.

The agency will have to complete the exercise and submit its report to the ministry within three months from the date of assigning of the task.

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