SC, OBC aspirants for UPSC, JEE to now get free coaching at ‘best’ centres of their choice

Modi government to now allow 2,000 of the 4,000 students it picks for its free coaching scheme to select their own institutes, even private ones.

File image of UPSC aspirants leaving an examination centre after their exam in New Delhi | PTI
File image of UPSC aspirants leaving an examination centre after their exam in New Delhi | PTI

New Delhi: Candidates from the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) preparing for competitive exams such as the UPSC, IIT-JEE and NEET among others, who receive free coaching under a central government scheme, could soon have the option to choose their own coaching centres.

Sources in the government told ThePrint that while presently, under the Scheme for Free Coaching for SC and OBC students, candidates are randomly allotted coaching centres that are enrolled with the government, the Centre is now planning to amend the scheme so 2,000 of the brightest aspirants can pick their own institutes. These institutes need not be enrolled with the government.

“Some of the best institutes do not get enrolled with the government because they feel it could impede their business… As a result, students end up going to institutes that don’t necessarily cater to their coaching needs,” said an official, who did not wish to be named. “So, the government has worked out a plan whereby candidates can pick their own institutes, and the government pays the entire amount to these institutes for coaching the candidates.”

Under the scheme, run by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the government provides free coaching to 4,000 economically disadvantaged SC and OBC candidates to enable them to appear in competitive examinations and succeed in obtaining an appropriate job in the public and private sectors.

With the tweak, the government would give the option of selecting the coaching centres to 50 per cent of the candidates, who would be shortlisted on the basis of their online applications. The Centre wishes to gradually expand the scope of this provision to 100 per cent of the candidates.

ThePrint contacted the social justice ministry spokesperson through text messages for a comment. This report will be updated when a response is received.

Scheme for free coaching for SC and OBC students

The exams covered under this scheme include Group A and Group B examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Boards (RRB), State Service Commissions, Public Sector Units or the exams conducted for admission in IIT-JEE, NEET, Law colleges, etc. The scheme also covers examinations like the GRE, GMAT, SAT.

While 70 per cent of the candidates under the scheme belong to the SC community, 30 per cent belong to the OBC community.

The scheme launched in 2016 has seen over 10 per cent of the candidates who were given free coaching crack the various exams in the last four years, sources said.

Speaking to ThePrint on the proposal, the head of a leading IAS coaching centre in New Delhi said it is a “welcome one” since it allows coaching centres to fulfil their social responsibilities without impacting their business models. “The only fear would be that the performance of the institute should not be affected. But that can be ensured by providing the best quality coaching to these students.”

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