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GoI denies pre-matric scholarship to SCs, STs, OBCs amidst quota offer to upper castes

Counterview Desk

The All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), condemning the Government of India (GoI) decision to stop pre-matric scholarship for SC/ST/OBC and minorities with an annual income of more than Rs 2.5 lakh, has said, it is an undisguised assault on the fundamental right to education for the poorest children from historically discriminated sections.
Signed by Jagmohan Singh, chairperson, AIFRTE, and Madhu Prasad, spokesperson, AIFRTE, in a statement, they say, this comes against the backdrop of reservation to economically weaker sections with an annual income of up to Rs 8 lakh.

Text:

The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) unequivocally condemns the shocking decision of the Union government, which introduced the questionable Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) `reservation’ for upper castes with an annual income of up to Rs 8 lakh, to stop pre-matric scholarships from class I to class VIII for SC/ST/OBC, minorities from families with annual income below Rs 2.5 lakh. This decision, to be implemented from 2022-23 onwards, is sought to be justified on the grounds that as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 norms education in government schools is free up to class VIII.
The Union government contributes 75% of the value of these scholarships, while the States contribute 25%. Its unilateral decision will thereby leave the States with no option but to comply.
This is an undisguised assault on the fundamental right to education for the poorest children from historically discriminated sections of our society. Without the financial incentive, even to cover costs on textbooks, uniforms and miscellaneous expenses, children will be forced out of schools and into child labour.
There also appears to be a devious strategy to exploit this inevitable result to launch a further offensive against the system of government schools by the merger-closure strategy being so rapidly resorted to across the country. As students are forced out and numbers decline this is made an excuse for overcrowding in some schools through mergers, while neighbourhood schools are closed down and their infrastructure and assets diverted, often to private agencies, for other purposes.
AIFRTE demands that the Government of India immediately takes back this blatantly anti-people and ill-conceived decision. In fact given the spiralling price rise, the incentivizing pre-matric scholarship for class I to class VIII should be increased to ensure that the fundamental right to education is not denied to children of the most marginalized and oppressed sections.

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