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Education made free for Iti

Calcutta, July 9: The Bengal government has announced that Iti Baidya, the meritorious daughter of a poor vegetable seller, will be able to pursue medical studies for free.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra told the Assembly that Iti would be able to become a doctor taking advantage of a clause for the “economically disadvantaged” in the new tuition fee structure.

Iti had topped the Madhyamik examinations among girls in 2001 and ranked high in the joint entrance tests to gain a seat in Calcutta Medical College and Hospital but her family does not have the money to see her through the course. Iti’s family today thanked the steady stream of well-wishers who offered help.

Unveiling the new fee structure — the first revision in several decades — for MBBS and other courses like dental science, homoeopathy and ayurveda, Mishra said the market-oriented medical education policy contained a clause designed to protect poor but meritorious students like Iti.

“The chief minister has told me about the plight of the poor girl reported in The Telegraph. She can now pursue her dream in the light of the clause in the new fee structure,” Mishra told the Assembly.

However, the health minister could not readily say whether Iti would be exempt from paying hostel charges. “We have not yet examined the hostel charges. But if such a meritorious student like her applies to us for free accommodation, we will definitely examine her case,” Mishra later said.

Health officials said the present charge for medical college hostels was Rs 12 per month and a proposal is being drawn up to increase it to Rs 500 per month. The charge does not cover food.

For Iti, putting up at the hostel will be costly if the government does not provide free accommodation. She will also have to bear the burden of buying medical books and equipment valued at Rs 20,000, besides an examination fee of Rs 140.

Mishra told the Assembly that the new tuition fee for MBBS would be Rs 850 per month. A one-time payment of Rs 1,000 has to be deposited as admission, caution and library fees. The fee at present is Rs 12. The fee for the dental science course will be Rs 750 per month. For homoeopathy and ayurveda courses, it will be Rs 650 per month.

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