The state government is taking steps to ensure that around four lakh school students belonging to the state’s minority communities, get educational assistance this year. These were students who could not get the help last academic year because of “technical glitches” with the scholarship website.
Last week, in a letter sent to education officers across districts, the state’s Directorate of Minority and Adult Education (DMAE) said that it will take the matter up with the Central ministry of minority affairs. Meanwhile, officers and school principals have been asked to submit the details of the students who couldn’t get grants. The deadline for doing so has been extended from October 31 to November 30.
The development comes after an association of minority school principals from Latur district wrote to the DMAE, asking the state to probe the matter. The principals had also demanded for these students to be included in the state’s scholarship ‘renewal’ list.
HT had reported that around 7.18 lakh students from minority communities in the state were up for the renewal of their annual pre-matric scholarship for the academic year 2015-16, but the state government received only 3.77 lakh applications, of which around 3.31 lakh were deemed eligible for the assistance.
Until 2014-15, the pre-matric scholarship — a part of the Central government’s 15-point programme for minorities — was disbursed by the state with the central government bearing 75% of the expenses. In 2015-16, the distribution was moved to the National Scholarship Portal (NSP). However, many principals had a hard time filling up details of the applicants on the portal. As a result, the state decided to accept the applications offline as well.
The school-level scholarship was introduced to encourage parents from minority communities to send their children to school. As per the scheme, schoolchildren, whose parents’ annual income is less than Rs 1 lakh, are to get Rs 1,000 as maintenance allowance every year, in addition to Rs 500 towards admission fee and Rs 350 towards monthly tuition fee. The amount is deposited in their bank accounts through the Direct Benefit Transfer mechanism.
According to the government officials, many schools did not provide students with information about the renewal of the scholarship even though they were up for it. However, the activists had blamed the lackadaisical approach of the district-level education officers for the loss.
“We welcome the decision to extend the deadline, but that’s not enough. The state should probe the matter and punish the officers responsible for depriving minority students of their scholarships,” said Razaullah Khan, a principal and president of the association.