Centre stops pre-matric scholarships; Kerala to continue paying benefit

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued an order stopping payment of pre-matric scholarships to students in Classes 1 to 8 but extending the benefit to pupils in Classes 9 and 10.

However, K Radhakrishnan, State Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, said that the State government had set in motion at the department level a process for ensuring continued payment of the scholarships to those students from Classes 1 to 8 who have been receiving the assistance till now.

He said no funds had been allocated in the budget for meeting the additional expenditure. It will be taken up with the Finance Ministry and the issue has been brought to the attention of the Chief Minister.

The Centre’s directive to return all applications from students from Classes 1 to 8 came after all procedures to pay the assistance for this year were completed. At the same time, the Centre has enhanced the amount of assistance for students in Classes 9 and 10 standards.

The Centre has stopped the scholarships, pointing out that it is the responsibility of the State governments to ensure free and compulsory education for students from Classes 1 to 8.

Under the present arrangement, the Centre and the State governments contribute 50% each of the expenses for paying scholarships to students of Backward Classes till Class 10. Students belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC), Economically Backward Classes (EBC), and Denotified Tribes (DNT), whose family income was below Rs 2.5 lakh per annum were being paid Rs 1,500 a year as assistance.

However, after students up to Class 8 were excluded from the scheme, the revised amount of scholarships for students in Classes 9 and 10 has been enhanced to Rs 4,000 per year. State governments are required to contribute 40% of the amount for this assistance.This will prove to be an additional financial burden for Kerala.

Until now, the Centre was contributing the full amount of the post-matric scholarships. From now on, the States will have to share 40% of the amount.

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