Published: 08th December 2022
Restore pre-matric scholarship for minority students, CM of Tamil Nadu Stalin tells PM Modi
Only students studying in Classes IX and X would be eligible for the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday, December 7 urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme to all minority students from Classes I to VIII.
Writing to Modi, Stalin said the Centre has abruptly withdrawn the minority scholarship provided under the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme to students studying in Classes I to VIII from 2022-2023. This would affect all scholarships for children in Classes I to VIII, he said, as stated in a report by PTI. "I want to point out that this stance goes against the principle of supporting the needy in the crucial years of their early education," he added.
Five lakh minority students affected
Under the scheme, Rs 86.76 crore was sanctioned to 4,49,559 students from Tamil Nadu in 2021-2022. With the withdrawal of scholarships by the Union government, nearly five lakh poor minority students studying from Classes I to VIII in Tamil Nadu would be adversely affected and deprived of the benefits of scholarships, the Chief Minister pointed out.
Education is the most effective tool for empowering the poor and helping them lead dignified lives, he said. "Multiple surveys over the years have demonstrated that minorities, especially Muslims, are lagging in education. This scholarship supports poor, underprivileged and highly marginalised students, including girls, to access quality education and, therefore, must be continued. I, therefore, request you to put the decision on hold and restore the pre-matric scholarship scheme to all minority students studying from Classes I to VIII," he said as per the PTI report.
In a letter dated November 29, 2022, the Ministry of Minority Affairs stated that the Right to Education Act made it obligatory for the government to provide free and compulsory elementary education (from Classes I to VIII) to every child. Only students studying in Classes IX and X would be eligible for the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
The Centre introduced the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme for minority students in 2008-09. Minority students in Classes I to X studying in government/government-aided and all recognised private institutions are eligible for this scholarship if their parent/guardian's annual income is less than Rs 1 lakh.
Meanwhile, students too claim that the issue unfairly targets minority students in the country. Students, activists, and members of the All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) protested against the government's decision in Malleswaram, Bengaluru this week. “Abandoning the scholarship now will leave a large number of students permanently out of education. Innumerable poor children are unable to pay school fees drop out of education and work because of financial problems. The situation of SC/ST, backward and minorities is no different,” said AIDSO State President Ashwini KS, as reported by The New Indian Express.