Scholarship neglect finger at govt
New Delhi: A people's tribunal organised by academics and activists on Friday feared higher studies would be out of bounds for the poor soon since the government was neglecting scholarship schemes, thereby forcing students to take education loans.
The People's Tribunal on Attacks on Educational Institutions organised by the People's Commission on Shrinking Democratic Space in India heard the presentations of over 500 students and teachers from 52 higher educational institutions over the past three days.
"It is very clear that the banking sector is now being encouraged to provide educational loans to students while they are being denied scholarships.
"These loans will not only make them enslaved financially but also become bonded labourers for several years," the tribunal jury announced.
Professor Uma Chakravarti, a jury member, said the non-release of post-Matriculation scholarship funds to Dalit students proved that the government was not committed to their educa-tion.
The Union ministry of social justice and empowerment, which provides the scholarship funds to the states, is yet to release Rs 6,900 crore towards clearance of arrears of five years.
Deposing before the tribunal on Thursday, Abhay Xaxa, a member of the Dalit Adivasi Students Campaign (DASC), an organisation fighting for the welfare of socially backward students, said a Dalit medical student from Patna quit his studies for want of scholarship funds.
Xaxa estimated that 57 lakh Dalit students have been affected by the lack of funds.
He said the DASC had done field study in Nawada district of Bihar and Latehar district of Jharkhand and found that Dalit students were forced to quit higher studies and take up work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Each Dalit student opting for higher studies is entitled to scholarship amounts ranging between Rs 6,000 and Rs 11,000 a year.
Social justice minister Thawaarchand Gehlot has said he has taken up the funds' issue with the finance ministry and the Prime Minister's Office and has been assured that the money will be released.
Prof. Chakravarti said the UGC had reduced grants to several institutions such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.