Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal said that the state government would continue with free bicycles for girls in upper primary classes despite the decision of the Centre to stop funding for the scheme.
"The education department has not informed me so far about any such decision. Even if the Centre has taken such a decision, I will take up the matter with the chief minister for providing free cycles to girls of classes 6 to 8 from the state budget," she told Hindustan Times.
Praising the free bicycle for girls scheme, the minister said that the intervention had helped curb the dropout rate among girls at the elementary level and would be continued. The Centre, which was giving funds for free bicycles for girls of upper primary classes on cost-sharing basis under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, has decided not to grant financial assistance to the states including Punjab and Haryana for this activity from financial year 2012-13.
While Haryana was allowed distribution of 21,000 cycles last year, Punjab received financial support for 6000 bicycles to girls of upper primary classes as part of the intervention for girls' education under the flagship programme. The girls, who take admission in Class 6 and have to travel to another village to study in the absence of a middle school in their village, are eligible for the free bicycle under the scheme. Haryana was the first state to start this innovative scheme.