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Higher Education Grants to Minority Students Saw Significant Dip in Last 5 Years, Govt Data Reveals

Data from RTIs and government reports shows that there has been a dip not only in the funds disbursed by the government but also in the number of beneficiaries pursuing higher education in both private and government universities.

Majid Alam | News18.com

Updated:July 27, 2019, 4:36 PM IST
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Higher Education Grants to Minority Students Saw Significant Dip in Last 5 Years, Govt Data Reveals
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New Delhi: The allocation of scholarships to minority students pursuing higher education has seen a significant decline in the last five years while allocation to primary education was increased, government data reveals.

The data accessed by News18.com through RTIs and government reports show that there has been a dip not only in the funds disbursed by the government but there has also been a decrease in the number of beneficiaries for higher education.

However, the allocation of the pre-matric scholarship has increased in the last five years.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs provides scholarships to students coming from six different minority communities under three schemes- Post-Matric scholarship, Pre-Matric scholarship and Merti-Cum-Means scholarship.

All three scholarships are given to students from economically weaker sections. While Post-Matric scholarship is awarded to students pursuing higher education, Merit-Cum-Means is offered to those who enrolled in professional and technical courses.

While the data shows that the pre-matric scholarship scheme for primary education grew in the last five years, the remaining two schemes for higher education witnessed reduction in funds and beneficiaries in the last five years.

The shift in allocation shows that the government is trying to prioritise primary education over higher education.

Six minority communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Parsi are eligible for the scholarship schemes.

Shift in Fund Allocation

Data accessed through RTIs and government reports shows that the fund spent on the merit-cum-means and post-matric scholarship registered a fall in the last five years even after an increase in the overall budget allocated to the ministry.

In the post-matric scholarship, the amount spent on the scholarship dipped to Rs 412.8 crore in 2018 from Rs 598 crore in 2014.

The amount spent on merit-cum-means scholarship also reduced in the last five years. The amount spent on the scheme was reduced to Rs 280 crore in 2018 from Rs 335 crore in 2014.

However, the allotment to pre- matric scholarship registered a rise in the last five years, it increased to Rs 1257 crore in 2018 from Rs 1100 crore in 2014.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs was allotted Rs 4,700 crore in 2018-19 against Rs 3,711 crore in 2014-15.

Dip in Beneficiaries

Another data shows that though the number of students applying for Post-Matric scholarship increased between 2014 and 2018, the number of scholarships allotted decreased during that time.

The number of students who received post-matric scholarship was reduced to 6,65,118 in 2018 from 9,05,620 in 2014. However, the number of students applying for the scholarship had increased to 20 Lakhs in 2018 from 15.9 Lakhs in 2014.

For the merit cum means scholarship, the number of beneficiaries reduced to 1,03,690 in 2018 from 1,38,770 in 2014. The applicants also reduced to 3.2 Lakh in 2019 from 4.6 Lakh in 2014.

The number of beneficiaries for the pre-matric scholarship also decreased to 56 Lakh in 2018 from 74 Lakh in 2014.

No Scholarship Despite Verification

Despite a high number of applicants in the scheme, not even a third have made it to the list. Of the 3.26 lakh applicants for Merit-Cum-Means, only one lakh received the scholarship.

Among the 20 lakh students who apply for Post-Matric scholarship, only 6 lakh or 33 per cent received the scholarship. After the applicants apply for a scholarship, there is a series of verification process, only after which the selected students qualify for the scholarships.

Though the verification data isn’t available for 2018, a previous data shows that despite the verification process getting complete, candidates didn’t receive their scholarship for that year.

In case of the Post-Matric scholarship too, despite the verification, around one lakh students couldn’t receive the scholarship 2017-18. In Merit-Cum-Means, around 12,000 students did not get the scholarship in 2017.

During a meeting at Antyodaya Bhawan recently, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that several scholarships such as Post-Matric and Merit-Cum-Means will be provided to five crore students from minority communities in the next five years. But seeing the current records, the promise seems unattainable.

We reached out to the Union Minister, but he declined to comment on the matter.

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