New Delhi: The number of students from minority communities availing the pre-matric scholarship scheme in Uttarakhand dropped by over 100 times between 2017-18 and 2020-21, revealed an RTI filed by the Times of India.
The scheme, which is run by the minority welfare department of the state government, is exclusively meant for students belonging to a minority community studying in classes 1-10 who are natives of Uttarakhand.
According to the report, 38,477 students availed of the scholarship in 2017-18. The number dropped to 8,601 in 2018-19, and further declined to 3,498 students availing of the scholarship through the state-run scheme. In 2020-21, only 337 students availed of the scholarship
The budget for the scheme – which reduced from Rs 3 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 2 lakh in 2020-21 – reflected this decline in students availing of the scholarship, the report said.
Raees Ahmed, deputy director of the Uttarakhand minority welfare department, explained to TOI several factors that were behind the heavy decline.
“Attachment of a government-issued income certificate in the application became mandatory a couple of years back. Earlier, it used to be just a mere undertaking and was not online,” he told the newspaper. He added that making the documents and uploading them required sufficient money, which many did not have.
He further said that the students preferred applying for the Central scheme for minorities, where the scholarship amount was Rs 5,000 per year compared to the state’s Rs 720 per year.
Another reason for students preferring the Centre-run scheme is that the state government-run scheme required the annual family income of the student cannot be more than Rs 38,000, whereas in the Central scheme, the annual family income can be up to somewhere around Rs 1 lakh.
TOI had earlier also reported a decline in the state-run scheme. According to the report, more than 2.2 lakh students were availing the scheme in 2014-15 while in 2016-17, the number reduced to 26,000.
Ahmed told TOI that the eligibility criteria were set by the government according to 1995 guidelines, and a proposal was sent in early 2021 to the secretariat to increase the scholarship amount as well as the family income limit.
Featured image: Pariplab Chakraborty
This article was first published on The Wire.