Govt betraying poor by slyly discontinuing scholarships for SC/ST, minority students: Surjewala

In response to Surjewala's question, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Pratima Bhoumik told the Rajya Sabha the pre-matric scholarships covered classes I to X before it was revised

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala
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Amarabati Bhattacharyya

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Friday accused the government of betraying the poor by removing class 1 to 8 children from the ambit of the pre-matric scholarships for SC/ST and minority students.

He said the move would mean lower enrolment and higher dropout rates for students from the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class communities.

"This is betrayal with the poor," Surjewala tweeted, citing the reply given by the government to a question he asked about the scholarships for SC/ST and minority students.

"Very slyly, on the floor of the Parliament, Modi Government has accepted that Pre-Matric Scholarships meant for SC, ST, OBC and Minority students for Class I to VIII are discontinued. This would mean higher dropout rates and lower enrolment for SC-ST-OBC’s," he said in a tweet.

In response to Surjewala's question, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Pratima Bhoumik earlier told Rajya Sabha the pre-matric scholarships covered classes I to X before it was revised.

"None of the above schemes has been discontinued," he said. "However, pre-matric scholarship for OBC and others has been revised and now it covers the students studying in Classes IX and X." He was asked if children/wards of parents/guardians of manual scavengers, waste pickers, tanners and flayers, persons engaged in hazardous cleaning were benefitting from the scheme.

The government had earlier said some classes have been taken out of the purview of the scheme as a step towards rationalisation of the scholarship.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar had said the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 makes it obligatory for the government to provide free and compulsory elementary education (classes 1 to 8) to each and every child.

Accordingly, only students of classes 9 and 10 are covered under the pre-matric scholarship scheme for OBC.

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