HRD Ministry wants to make a larger number of students eligible
Concerned over the far-from-satisfactory implementation of the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Programme by a majority of States, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has started a process of enhancing the criteria of annual parental income from the current Rs. 1.5 lakh and the rate of scholarships to make a larger number of students eligible for the scholarships.
The Ministry also proposes to hold a separate examination from this year for the Class X students interested in getting scholarships. At present, the eligible students are selected after they clear the National Talent Search Exam.
Launched in 2008, this Centrally-sponsored scheme was aimed to provide scholarships to meritorious students from the economically weaker sections and also to check the high drop-out rate from Class VIII.
One lakh scholarships of Rs. 6,000 (Rs. 500 per month per student) are given annually to eligible students enrolled in government, government-aided and local body schools from Class IX to XII.
Students whose parental annual income is Rs. 1,50,000 are eligible for this scholarship and each State is allotted a specified quota.
The money is transferred directly into the student’s account by the State Bank of India.
However, a review of the scheme performance has indicated that a majority of States and Union Territories were unable to utilise their allocated quota except Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, Sikkim and Puducherry where performance has been exceptional.
The worst-performing States are J&K, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.
The review has shown that only 37 per cent scholarships were awarded in 2011-2012 while the figure stood around 28 per cent in the two previous years. The highest number of scholarships, over 55 per cent – were allotted in 2008-2009.
The worst performers
Chhattisgarh awarded only 9 per cent, 3 per cent, 9 per cent and 5 per cent scholarships respectively in the four years while Jammu and Kashmir awarded 7 per cent, less than one per cent, six per cent and 12 per cent scholarships in the past four years. Rajasthan presents an ironic picture with over 32 per cent scholarships given out in the first year and the next three years it was 6 per cent, 2 per cent and one per cent respectively.