New Delhi: The Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare has written to all state governments, asking them to “submit their willingness” to participate in the post-Matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Caste students.
The ministry letter, dated 23 December, accessed by ThePrint, read, “All the states and UTs may submit their willingness to participate in the scheme either from the year 2020-21 or 2021-22 onwards, latest by 15th January, 2021.”
The Union cabinet had Wednesday approved changes to the scheme, which is expected to benefit over 4 crore SC students in the next five years.
The Centre currently provides only funds above the ‘committed liability’, which translates to about 11 per cent of the total cost. This led to many states ending the scheme. But the Cabinet has now approved a total investment of Rs 59,048 crore for the scheme, of which the central government will spend Rs 35,534 crore — around 60 per cent of the total sum. State governments will have to cover the remaining amount.
Ministry secretary, R. Subrahmanyam, confirmed to ThePrint that a letter has been sent to the states, asking if they’re willing to take part in the scheme.
The revised guidelines of the scheme will be issued shortly.
The letter also stated that from 2021-22 and onwards, the Centre would add an additional fund of upto 5 per cent to its share.
Robust IT network for implementation of the scheme
According to the letter, students from the poorest SC households are to be given a priority under the scheme.
It also said special awareness programmes are to be undertaken by state governments/UTs about the scheme through gram panchayat notice boards, school committees, discussions in parent-teacher association meetings and other public awareness measures.
An official in the ministry, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have also started the process of establishing a robust IT support network for effective implementation of this scheme.”
“Since the states will have to create a database of the students and money transfer will be through online means, we will ensure that there is no scope for misuse of the funds,” he added.
The scheme will be run via the National Scholarship Portal with “robust cyber security measures” that would ensure “transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delays”, the letter stated.
Students from SC households where one or both the parents are illiterate and those who have passed class 10 from state government/municipality/local body schools will be given priority under the scheme.
The letter also stated that all state governments and UTs will have to create an Annual Action Plan every February for the implementation of the scheme. These action plans will be approved by the central government.
Incentives and disincentives will be decided based on parameters like coverage from the poorest households and academic outcomes of the scholarship-holders, the letter said.