Scheduled Castes post-matric scholarship plan | Union Cabinet approves changes including new funding pattern

The aim is to enable four crore students access higher education over the next five years

Updated - December 24, 2020 09:26 am IST

Published - December 23, 2020 11:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Picture for representation.

Picture for representation.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on December 23 approved changes to the post-matric scholarship scheme for students from the Scheduled Castes, including a new funding pattern of 60-40 for the Centre and States. The changes were aimed at enabling four crore students to access higher education over the next five years, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said at a press briefing.

Switching from the existing “committed liability” formula, the new funding pattern would increase the Centre’s involvement in the scheme, a statement said.

Also read | SCs fear losing benefits under new scholarship plan

An investment of ₹59,048 crore, of which ₹35,534 crore would be the Centre’s share, was approved for the next five years.

Acknowledging the delays that have plagued the scheme, Mr. Gehlot said now the amount would be sent to the beneficiaries’ accounts directly.

Poorest students

Social Justice Secretary R. Subrahmanya said the changes approved by the Cabinet were aimed at enrolling the poorest students, ensuring timely payments and maintaining accountability.

Also read | Restructure post-matric scholarship scheme, says T.N. Chief Minister

He said an estimated 1.36 crore students who would otherwise drop out after Class 10 would be brought into the higher education system under the scheme in five years. A campaign for enrolling students from the poorest households would be carried out, he said.

States would be asked to carry out verification of the students’ eligibility and caste status and collect their Aadhaar and bank account details.

Also read | VCK condemns move to replace scholarship for SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities

“Transfer of financial assistance to the students under the scheme shall be on DBT [direct benefit transfer] mode, and preferably using the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System. Starting from 2021-22, the Central share [60%] in the scheme would be released on DBT mode directly into the bank accounts of the students as per fixed time schedule, after ensuring that the State government concerned has released its share,” the statement said.

The Secretary added that community audits of the scheme would be conducted to make sure the benefits were reaching the students.

“The Central assistance, which was around ₹1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20, would be increased more than five times to be around ₹6,000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26,” the statement said.

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