A financial incentive scheme meant to retain girls for secondary education will be applicable only for scheduled castes and scheduled tribe and those finishing from Kasturba Gandhi Bal Vidyalayas.
The Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had said that funds would not be an issue for empowering the girl child, approved the modified scheme citing financial constraints. In his 2006 budget speech, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said the scheme would cover all girls enrolling for class IX.
To his budget proposal, the HRD ministry proposed that Rs 7,736 crore would be required for a one-time deposit of Rs 3,000 in the bank accounts of all girls, returnable with interest at attaining 18 years of age provided they clear class X examinations.
But the Planning Commission provided only Rs 1,500 crore, forcing the HRD ministry to limit the scheme to SC/ST girls and Kasturba Vidyalaya graduates. The Vidyalayas are residential schools up to class VIII meant for girls from weaker sections of society.
The HRD ministry explained that SC/ST girls are the most deprived with enrolment for classes 9-12 at just 28.73 per cent and 21.95 per cent respectively compared with 35.05 per cent for all girls and 45 per cent for boys. Still, the scheme would benefit 52 lakh girls in the 11th plan, the ministry estimated. Only unmarried girls will benefit.
The Cabinet also decided to fund construction of hostels for Scheduled Tribe girls. In the case of boys, the Central government funding would be 100 per cent in naxal-affected areas and 50 per cent in others.
The Central Universities would be eligible to seek 90 per cent whereas others would be entitled to 45 per cent of the construction cost from the Central government. The Cabinet has also reduced the construction period for new hostels from five to two years.