House panel expresses concern over fall in SC/ST scholarship scheme beneficiaries

A PARLIAMENTARY Committee has recommended that the parental annual income of Rs 2.5 lakh that makes Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students eligible for pre-matric and post-matric scholarships be revised to Rs 8 lakh, expressing “alarm” over the fall in the number of children from reserved categories availing the schemes over the recent years.

In the report presented to Lok Sabha on Friday, the committee on welfare of SCs and STs, chaired by BJP MP Kirit Premjibhai Solanki, has “censured the discriminatory action” of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs whose guidelines govern the centrally sponsored schemes.

“The committee is of the view that the ceiling of parents’ income limit of Rs 2.5 lakh should be raised considering the current cost of living and economic growth rates. The committee is dismayed to note that while the ceiling limit for EWS sections has been increased from Rs 6 lakhs to Rs 8 lakhs, the same parameters have not been applied for SC/ST students. The committee censures this discriminatory action of the Ministry,” said the report.

According to data in the report, the number of beneficiaries under the scheme fell substantially over the years in Kendriya Vidyalayas. In the case of the pre-matric scholarship scheme, the number of beneficiaries in 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 were 10234, 10195, 10634, 9892 and 7436, respectively.

The post-matric scholarship figures are also dismal, the committee observed. In 207-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, the number of beneficiaries stood at 690, 818, 20124, 21212, and 852 in KVs, according to the report.

“The committee are quite disturbed to see that the number of children receiving scholarships is quite meagre. From the year 2017-18, the figures are on a constant downfall… the committee is alarmed to note that figures pertaining to post-matric scholarships have nosedived in comparison to pre-matric scholarships. It is rather a matter of grave concern that the number of SC/ST children vying for post-matric courses are on the decline,” it said.

It also underlined that the schemes act as a catalyst for increasing the aspirations of the beneficiaries to pursue higher education.

Under the guidelines, SC/ST beneficiaries of the pre-matric scheme receive Rs 225 (day scholars) and Rs 525 (hostelites) per day. They also get Rs 750 and Rs 1000 annually for books. Under post-matric scholarships, meanwhile, SC beneficiaries receive between Rs 2500 to Rs 13,500 annually depending on the level of education.

ST beneficiaries between Rs 1200 to Rs 230 on a monthly basis depending on courses they are enrolled in, the report stated. Both the ministries have submitted that there is no proposal under consideration to raise the amount of the scholarships.

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