New Delhi, Sept. 13: The Centre is set to double the scholarship amount for meritorious students from marginalised sections and increase the parental income eligibility criterion for the aid, the move following a prod from a parliamentary panel.
The human resource development ministry has decided to approach the finance ministry for increasing the monthly scholarship amount from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for students of Classes IX to XII under the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme.
Since the scheme's launch in 2008, the scholarship amount has never been revised. Students from families with annual parental income of less than Rs 1.5 lakh are allowed to apply for the scholarship and have to clear an entrance test.
Under the revised proposal approved by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, the income eligibility criterion has been increased to Rs 2.5 lakh annually. If approved, more families would be eligible for the scholarship, although there is a doubt if their numbers would be raised.
Earlier this year, the department related standing committee of Parliament on HRD had questioned the ministry's delay in revising the scholarship amount. The HRD ministry spends about Rs 140 crore on scholarships annually.
"The proposal to revise scholarship and income eligibility will be sent to the finance ministry. Once approved, it will be notified," a senior HRD ministry official said.
A National Sample Survey report had in 2014 found that the average annual expenditure per student pursuing secondary education (Classes IX and X) was about Rs 7,500 while it was Rs 12,600 for a higher secondary student (Classes XI-XII).
Lawyer Ashok Agrawal, who has fought several cases on violation of provisions of the Right to Education Act by many schools, welcomed the initiative.
"This should have been done much earlier in view of the inflation. Now, a child will get the amount that can help him meet his expenses," Agrawal said.
A student of Class IX gets scholarship for four years till Class XII after clearing an entrance test, provided he does not shift to a private school and obtains 55 per cent marks in Classes IX and XI and 60 per cent in Class X.
Each state has been allotted a quota under the scheme. While Uttar Pradesh has a quota of about 15,000 students, Bengal has for 7,250 students. Jharkhand can recommend 2,000 students every year.