Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme to all minority students from class 1 to 8.
Writing to Modi, Stalin said the Centre has abruptly withdrawn the minority scholarship provided under the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme to students studying from 1st to 8th standard from 2022-2023. This would affect all scholarships for children in classes I-VIII, he said.
"I want to point out that this stance goes against the principle of supporting the needy in the crucial years of their early education."
Under the scheme, Rs 86.76 crore was sanctioned to 4,49,559 students from Tamil Nadu in 2021-2022. With the withdrawal of scholarship by the Union government, nearly five lakh poor minority students studying from 1st to 8th standard in Tamil Nadu would be adversely affected and deprived of the benefits of scholarship, the Chief Minister pointed out. Education is the most effective tool for empowering the poor and helping them lead dignified lives.
"Multiple surveys over the years have demonstrated that minorities, especially Muslims, are lagging in education. This scholarship supports poor, underprivileged, and highly marginalised students, including girls, to access quality education and, therefore, must be continued. I, therefore, request you to put the decision on hold and restore the pre-matric scholarship scheme to all minority students studying from 1st to 8th standard."
In a letter dated November 29, 2022, the Ministry of Minority Affairs stated that the Right to Education Act made it obligatory for the government to provide free and compulsory elementary education (from classes I to VIII) to every child.
Only students studying in Classes IX and X would be eligible for the pre-matric scholarship scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
The Centre introduced the pre-matric scholarship scheme for minority students in 2008-09. The minority students in classes 1-10 studying in government/government aided and all recognised private institutions are eligible for this scholarship if their parent/guardian's annual income is less than Rs 1 lakh.
-With PTI Input