Will the state government actually provide free degree education to all the 11 lakh- odd girl students enrolled in 139 government degree colleges and 331 government aided colleges of the state? Or would the announcement, like the one in 2004, end up with a token fee waiver? Tuesday’s announcement by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav about his government’s decision to impart free education to girl students in the state drew the praise of the treasury benches.
However, few cared to remember that unless the Samajwadi Party (SP) government this time waives fees under all the 23 heads, it would have committed a faux pas of sorts. That’s because in 2004 the Mulayam Singh Yadav government had already circulated an order making girls’ education in government degree colleges free. Back then only annual tuition fee – that varies from Rs. 144 to Rs. 180 – was actually waived, while the students continued to be charged under the remaining 22 heads.
“It is still not clear if the government this time intends to go for complete waiver. So unless it’s a zero fee situation, then Tuesday’s announcement won’t mean anything at all,” an education department official said. Of the 139 government degree colleges and 331 government-aided colleges, 31 are exclusively girls’ colleges while another 64 are aided girls’ colleges. In addition, there are roughly 3200 self-finance degree colleges where the girl students don’t stand to enjoy any kind of fee waiver.
The government has also announced plans to set up new model government co-education degree colleges in 36 districts, including five minority-dominated districts of the state. When ready, officials hope the government would extend fee-waiver to girl students there.
A government official said: “While it remains to be seen if the government actually extends full fee waiver, what can’t be doubted is the commitment to encourage girls’ education.”