Published: 10th December 2022
Pre-matric scholarship for Class I-VIII students withdrawn; majority say it is disadvantageous
The gov't recently declared that these students were already being covered under the RTE scheme, and thus withdrew the scholarship
After the government (Ministry of Minority Affairs) recently limited the pre-matric scholarship to the minority students of Classes IX and X only, several sections criticised the move. The scholarship scheme was being provided for students of Classes I-VIII as well, but the government declared that these students were already being covered under the Right to Education (RTE) scheme, and thus withdrew the scholarship.
It may be noted that the pre-matric scholarships awarded to ST (Scheduled Tribe) students by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and to SC (Scheduled Caste) and OBC (Other Backward Classes) students by the Ministry of Social Justice were also previously closed down to students of Classes IX and X only. This continuous cutting back on the scholarships has not gone down well with many.
In fact, it was one of the issues raised by AIDSO (All India Democratic Students' Organisation) as it organised state-wide protests in Karnataka yesterday, December 9. "After COVID-19, the economic condition of families has deteriorated. On the other hand, the number of students in government schools has increased. Poor families send their children to schools due to a lack of money at home for basic necessities, which is compensated for in the schools through benefits like the MDM (Midday Meal)," said Mahantesh B, AIDSO District President, Dharwad.
"In such a situation, the scholarships were a source of financial aid to the students. Though the money was not sufficient still, and AIDSO has asked the government to increase it, the funds helped the students to an extent. Its withdrawal is unfair," he added.
Many teachers also feel similarly. "The students from minority communities will face difficulties due to the withdrawal. It will affect their education," said Malabika Banerjee, a teacher from Baruipur Girls' High School, West Bengal.
Meanwhile, Dasani Srinivas, a teacher from the Zilla Parishad High School, Gangipelly, Telangana, said, "I do not think students will face any severe problems. They are already getting free uniforms, textbooks and MDM."
However, others disagree. Tutu Dei, a Senior Assistant Teacher from the Utkalamani Government Primary School, Jatni, Odisha said, "It is true that the students are getting these things for free. But we teachers have seen several times that students do not have notebooks or pens. Many families are so weak financially that cannot afford such basic education needs. It becomes difficult for us to teach due to this. When the scholarships were being sent, we could ask the families to buy their children these items."
She also pointed out that in Odisha, as the government has brought out this mandate that no student would be failed till Class VIII, the students have lost seriousness in their studies. "But the scholarship, apart from financial aid, also proved to be an encouragement for students to study. We used to coax them to do well in their academics in order to receive the scholarships as awards," Dei said.
Another teacher from Odisha Adarsh Vidyalaya, located in the Mayurbhanj district of the state, said, "There are many other necessities apart from books, food and uniforms for which the scholarships helped the students. Here, for example, students come to the schools from about 40 kilometres afar. The students do not have enough money for this daily travel."
The bottom line? A majority of the teachers feel that the government's move would prove to be disadvantageous. AIDSO has asked for such schemes to be reinstated. Dei is of the same opinion.