The creamy layer concept in scholarships to pre-matric students may become a reality.
In the final approach paper, the Planning Commission has recommended a scholarship scheme for all "bright poor students" irrespective of their caste and creed. "We don't want to widen the divide between the backwards and forward castes which has come into open after the reservation for OBCs in educational institutions," explained a Planning Commission official.
When contacted Planning Commission member BC Mungerkar, said, "It is a way to include poor bright children from all communities for building a knowledge society."
As per the new policy initiative, the only eligibility criteria for getting the national scholarship would be annual income of their parents. "The commission and HRD ministry has agreed in principle to give scholarships on the basis of 'mean test'," he informed.
The mean test is the average annual income for a particular section of the society. For instance, the mean test for Scheduled Caste students would be different from the mean test for an OBC student. Similarly the mean test for forward classes and Muslims would also vary. Moreover, the mean test for any community may differ from one state to another.
Though the concept of mean test has been agreed, the commission officials say, the final decision on what would be the mean test for each community will be decided by the government. "We expect the issue to be discussed in the next National Development Council meeting slated for December 9," an official said.
HRD minister Arjun Singh had earlier proposed a mean test for providing pre-matric scholarship to the educationally backward sections of the society including Muslims, SC/ST, OBCs and girl children. As per HRD ministry's estimate, over a crore students at the primary level will be eligible for scholarships if the mean test is not applied.
Already, a Planning Commission sub-group has recommended pre-matric scholarships ranging between Rs 500 to Rs 700 per year for backward Muslims, SCs, STs and OBCs. "We expect more sub-groups on education to submit their report by the end of November. Only after that a concrete plan on educational scholarships will be framed," an official said.