The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved changes in the centrally sponsored 'Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)' to benefit more than four crore SC students in the next five years so that they can successfully complete their higher education.
Briefing the media after a meeting of union cabinet, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Thawarchand Gehlot said that the Cabinet has approved a total investment of Rs 59,048 crore of which Central Government would spend Rs 35,534 crore and the balance would be spent by the state governments.
This replaces the existing 'committed liability' system and brings greater involvement of the central government in this scheme.
The post-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Scheduled Castes allows students to pursue any post-matric course starting from class 11 with the government meeting the cost of education.
According to an official release, the focus of the scheme would be on enrolling poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency.
It said a campaign will be launched to enrol the students from the poorest households passing the 10th standard in the higher education courses of their choice.
"It is estimated that 1.36 crore such poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standards would be brought into the higher education system in the next five years," the release said.
It said the scheme will be run on an online platform with robust cybersecurity measures that would assure transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delays.
The states will undertake fool-proof verification of the eligibility, caste status, Aadhar identification and bank account details on the online portal.
"Transfer of financial assistance to the students under the scheme shall be on DBT mode, and preferably using the Aadhar Enabled Payment System. Starting from 2021-22, the Central share (60 per cent) in the scheme would be released on DBT mode directly into the bank accounts of the students as per fixed time schedule, after ensuring that the concerned state government has released their share," it said.
The monitoring mechsm will be further strengthened through the conduct of social audits, annual third party evaluation, and half-yearly self-audited reports from each institution.
"The Central Assistance which was around Rs 1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20 would be increased more than 5 times to be around Rs 6,000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26," release said.
The changes in the scheme are "major and transformative," the release said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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