Union Government stops pre-matric scholarship for SC, ST, OBC and minority students of Class 1 to 8, and explains why – The Hindu

The Union Government has stopped pre-matric scholarships for students from class 1 to 8 belonging Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), Other Backward Community (OBC) and minority communities from the academic year 2022-23.

The government explained that these students are covered under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which makes it obligatory for the government to provide free and compulsory elementary education (classes 1 to 8) to each and every child. “Only students in classes 9 and 10 are now covered under the pre-metric scholarship scheme,” the government has said.

What is this scholarship?

In a pre-matric scholarship, the Centre and State governments share the financial burden in the ratio of 75:25. A student is eligible if parental income from all sources does not exceed ₹2.50 lakh per annum.

Earlier, it was provided for class 1 to 10 students of SC and OBC communities under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, for ST students under Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and minority community under Ministry of Minority Affairs.

The amount was ₹225 per month for day scholars and ₹525 per month for hostel residents for a period of 10 months in a year. Books and ad hoc grant for day scholars was ₹750 and ₹1,000 for hostel residents.

Applications of crores of students rejected this year

Crores of students had applied for the scholarship this year too. However, the applications of students from class 1 to 8 have been rejected by the Ministry.

The Union Government has sent notices to all States and Union Territories that Institute Nodal Officer (INO), District Nodal Officer (DNO), State Nodal Officer (SNO) may verify applications only for classes 9 and 10.

People working in the education sector and parents have opposed the move of the Union Government.

Dr. V.P. Niranjanaradhya, development educationist, called it an ‘unfortunate move’ and emphasised the need to incentivise children from these communities to enter the educational mainstream. “Free uniform, textbooks, cycle, shoes, and scholarships are incentives for poor children coming from SC/ST/backward classes and minority communities to encourage enrolment, attend classes and complete elementary education,” he told The Hindu.

‘Regressive step’

Riyaz Ahmed from Centre for Educational Research and Analysis (CERA) called it an ‘attempt to curtail their (children’s) rights and thereby diluting their fundamental right’. “RTE is a fundamental right. However, pre-matric scholarship is a government scheme for students’ educational upliftment. The Union Government’s move will result in more non-enrolment and dropouts at the elementary stage. It is a regressive step in terms of affirmative action.”

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