There were Key initiatives and achievements of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the year 2023. Some of them are Pre-Matric and Post-Matric scholarship schemes for SC students, the Scholarships for Higher Education for Young Achievers Scheme (SHREYAS) for SCs, and the National Overseas Scholarship for SCs.
According to a press statement from the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, with an objective of appreciably increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio of SC students in higher education, with a focus on those from the poorest households, has been implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Post-Matric Scholarships to the students belonging to Scheduled Castes for studies in India”.
DoSJE introduced the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Pre-Matric Scholarship for SC students and others, which aims to support, through financial assistance, parents of children belonging to Schedules Caste and other disadvantaged categories for the education of their wards studying at the pre-matric stage.
Achievements under the schemes:
During the year 2023 to till date (22.12.2023), a total of 34,58,538 SC beneficiaries have been released scholarships amounting to Rs 3546.34 Cr under the Post-Matric scholarship scheme for SC students.
During the year 2023 to till date (22.12.2023), a total of 18,32,628 beneficiaries have been released scholarships amounting to Rs. 369.03 Cr under the Pre-Matric Scholarship scheme for SC students.
Aadhaar-based payment system is being utilised to ensure that the scholarship funds are received by the student through DBT directly into his/her aadhaar seeded account.
Some of the States/UTs viz. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka have automated the process of receipt and processing of applications by digitalisation of certificates and auto-fetching of eligibility data to ensure minimum manual intervention and increased transparency.
Seven States/UTs viz. Assam, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Odisha have covered more beneficiaries as against their annual targets under the Post Matric SC scheme for the year 2022-23.
Under Component-II of the Pre-matric Scheme, which deals with children whose parents are engaged in cleaning and hazardous occupations, the number of participating States has increased from one in 2022 to nine in 2023 to provide scholarships to disadvantaged students.
The Department conceptualised an Umbrella scheme, namely ‘Scholarship for Higher Education for Young Achievers Scheme (SHREYAS)’ to ensure the convergence of resources across the four smaller Central Sector Schemes of the Department catering to SC/OBC students desirous of pursuing higher education (in India and abroad) and/or obtaining employment in Group A/Group B services of centre or State Governments.
National Overseas Scholarship for SCs:
Under the NOS Scheme, financial assistance is provided to the selected students from SCs (115 slots); De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (6 slots); landless agricultural labourers and traditional artisan categories ( 4 slots) for pursuing masters and Ph.G. level courses abroad.
Presently, 125 slots are allotted under the Scheme. 107 students have been awarded scholarships out of 125 for the SY 2023-24 to date, said the ministry.
The Department has been implementing Scheme for Residential Education for Students in High Schools in Targeted Areas (SHRESHTA) to enhance the reach of development Intervention in the Government and to fill the gap in service-deficient SCs dominant areas, in the sector of education through the efforts of grant-in-aid institutions (run by NGOs) and residential high schools offering high-quality education and to provide an environment for socio-economic upliftment and overall development of the Scheduled Castes (SCs).
The Scheme is being implemented in two modes. In mode-I, each year, a specified number (3000) of meritorious SC students in States/UTs are selected through the National Entrance Test for SHRESHTA (NETS) conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) and admitted to the best private residential schools affiliated by CBSE/State Boards in classes 9th and 1lth.
In mode 2, financial assistance is provided to the NGOs for running the schools/hostel projects related to the Education sector for Scheduled Caste students. The Scheme broadly covers three types of projects, namely (i) Residential Schools, (ii) Non- Residential Schools, and (iii) Hostels, both for Primary and Secondary Students.
(with inputs from ANI)