From next year, junior college applicants looking to apply for cultural quota seats stand to benefit from the decision of the department of cultural affairs to refine the definition of the quota itself.
A committee will be formed to look into how the new cultural quota scheme can be improved, therefore expanding its benefits to more students, said officials.
Students excelling in cultural activities can apply to junior colleges through the cultural quota, where 2% of all seats are kept aside for them. Students excelling in music, dance or drama and with recognition from certain state institutions are eligible.
“We are trying to refine this scheme,” said Ashutosh B Ghorpade, the state government’s director of cultural affairs. “The definition of culture is quite vague. How can more people benefit? Can other activities be included? Which other institutes can certify cultural excellence?”
The directorate of cultural affairs is the body that approves the eligibility of candidates.
This year, the number of students seeking admission through the quota has increased, with 839 candidates getting certified from the directorate of cultural affairs compared to 650 in 2011. In 2010, 400-odd students had applied.
In order to benefit through the quota, students need to pass an exam through one of the institutes that the government recognises (see box).
“When I was young, my parents decided to send me for tabla classes,” said Kiran Shelke, who has passed four levels of tabla exams and will be applying to Birla College in Kalyan through the cultural quota. “But I did not take up tabla just to get into a college.”
Students usually seek their certificates in the run-up to junior college admissions.