As per a release on Wednesday 23rd December, 2020, by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to appreciate and reward the efforts and to ensure that Scheduled Caste (SC) students receive more opportunities to pursue higher education, increased the budget of a key scholarship scheme.

The highlight was that the Centre has also decided to make the scheme much simpler and funds be put directly into students’ bank accounts.

On this the Union minister for social justice and empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot shared in a press conference that the Centre has increased their share in the scheme. Now the Centre will contribute 60% of the scholarship amount and the States would contribute the remaining 40% of the cost.

As per the findings, it is said that the Centre’s contribution in present day is around 11% under a committed liability scheme.

This approval of major change in the centrally sponsored Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for students belonging to Scheduled Castes by the CCEA will benefit approximately 40 million SC students in the coming five years. This will help them in successfully completing their higher education.

On this development PM Modi took it to twitter to share his thoughts. He tweeted:

The SC students under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme can pursue any post-matric course starting from Class 11 and onwards.

An approval by the cabinet for a total investment of Rs 59,048 crore has been received, out of which the Centre’s contribution of 60% amounts to Rs 35, 534 crore, and the remaining 40%, that comes to Rs 23,619 crore, is the States contribution. 

If we look back to the period during 2017-18 to 2019-20, the Center was chipping in a sum of Rs 1,100 crore (approx) annually.

As per the reports, this commitment by the central government will have a direct impact on the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education of SC students plus GER would reach the national standard within five years. At present the GER ratio for SC students is about 20% whereas the national average is 27%.

The scheme aims at focusing up on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency. To reach the desired result a campaign will be launched to enrol the students who hail from the poorest households and are passing the 10th standard.

To ensure total transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance the scheme will be running on an online platform that will have strong cyber security measures.

The government has estimated that 13.6 million students at present who are not pursuing higher education would be able benefit in the coming five years because of the new changed scheme. With the same thought, Social justice secretary R Subrahmanyam also mentioned that this scheme will help nearly two-thirds of SC students in higher education. 

This move has been welcomed with open arms and a lot of people are seen in support and appreciating this move. Social activist Beena Pallical shared her support and said that this scheme and increased funds is a lifeline for students from weaker sections.

Inder Mohan Kapahy who is a distinguished educationist and former UGC member shared his views and said that to achieve the anticipated target of 50% GER in NEP 2020 huge investments shall be required to motivate socially backward classes for higher education. In the current scenario, the GER is around 27%, and for SCs and STs, it is 20% & 15%, respectively. The Union government’s move of increasing the budget for Post Matric scholarships over 550% shall certainly help.