Chandigarh, Oct 14 — The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the decks for the state to launch its own Scheduled Caste Post Matric Scholarship Scheme in place of the Centre’s scheme, in order to facilitate students to pursue higher education in government and private institutions.
With this, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced an increase in income criteria from earlier Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4 lakh to accommodate more Scheduled Caste (SC) students, an official told IANS.
The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, approved the Dr BR Ambedkar SC Post Matric Scholarship Scheme, to be effective from 2021-22.
The scheme will be applicable to persons belonging to the SC, who are domiciled in Punjab and have done matriculation from Punjab and Chandigarh.
All Central, state government and private institutions in Punjab and Chandigarh will be covered under the scheme.
The total financial implication of the proposal is estimated to be about Rs 600 crore. Of this, the tentative liability of the government institutions would be about Rs 168 crore and the remaining Rs 432 crore would be borne by the private educational institutions and the government.
Since the revised scheme envisages reimbursement of 60 per cent to the private institutions by the state, the liability of the government on this account would be 60 per cent of Rs 432 crore, i.e., about Rs 260 crore.
The scheme will come as a relief to hundreds of thousands of SC students who were deprived of the opportunity to pursue higher learning after the government of India withdrew from its Post Matric Scholarship Scheme in 2018, when it made several amendments to pass the financial burden to the state governments.
Since then, the state has not been able to avail any grants under the Centre’s scheme.
As per the revised income criteria, the combined income of both the parents for a student to avail assistance under the new scheme has been enhanced from Rs 2.50 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, according to an official spokesperson.
There shall be no burden of course fee on SC students, who shall be provided free education. The remaining terms and conditions of the scheme shall remain as earlier under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme of 2018 of the government of India.
Notably, the SC population in Punjab is 31.94 per cent and persons in this category are both economically and socially backward.
As per the 2011 Census, the literacy rate of SCs in Punjab was 68.4 per cent as compared to 75.9 per cent of other communities.
As per the National Family Health Survey of 2014-15, 86.8 per cent of SC students in the age group of 6 to 17 attended schools in 2014-15, against 96 per cent students belonging to other communities.