The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved changes in the centrally sponsored Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme to benefit more than four crore Scheduled Caste students in the next five years and approved a total investment of over Rs 59,000 crore for the purpose.
Of the total investment of Rs 59,048 crore approved by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 60 per cent, which amounts to Rs 35,534, would be spent by the Centre and the rest by the state govenrment.
"This replaces the existing ''committed liability'' system and brings greater involvement of the Central government in this crucial scheme. The focus of the scheme would be on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency," an official statement said.
"Today's Cabinet decision on post-matric scholarship will ensure greater educational access to youngsters belonging to SC communities. Ensuring top quality and affordable education to our youth is an important focus area for our government," the prime minister said in a tweet.
The Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Scheduled Castes allows students to pursue any course from class 11, with the government providing for the cost of education.
"A campaign will be launched to enroll the students, from the poorest households passing the 10th standard, in the higher education courses of their choice. It is estimated that 1.36 crore such poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standards, would be brought into the higher education system in the next 5 years," the statement said.
"The scheme will be run on an online platform with robust cyber security measures that would assure transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delay. The states will undertake fool-proof verification of the eligibility, caste status, Aadhaar identification and bank account details on the online portal," it added.
The Cabinet also approved further strengthening of monitoring mechanism through conduct of social audits, annual third-party evaluation, and half-yearly self-audited reports from each institution.
"The Central assistance which was around Rs 1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20 would be increased more than five times to be around Rs 6,000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26," it said.
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