More than 60 lakh students across India were on the verge of losing their only hope of education- the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme!
The scheme that helps over Scheduled Categories students (from classes 11 and 12) complete their schooling had nearly shut down across more than 14 states, after the Central Government reduced funding to states under a 2017-18 ‘committed liability’ formula.
According to this formula, 90% of the budget was to be funded by the states while the center’s share dwindled from nearly 60% in the 12th Finance Commission period down to 10% in 2018.
Due to lack of proper funding from the central government, since 2018, most of the 60 lakhs students had not received their scholarships. Moreover, there was a two years delay in disbursement of scholarships in states like Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and so on.
On 26th November 2020, Economic Times reported that the issue was pending with the Prime Minister’s Office for the final decision and the cabinet might discontinue the scheme.
Jhatkaa.org started a campaign called #RestorePostMatricScholarshipScheme asking people to sign the petition, and demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue the scheme.
To make our case stronger, we partnered with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) who are fighting for restoration of the scheme for a few years.
With support coming from students, Bahujan groups and the Jhatkaa.org members, the campaign gained momentum throughout December on social media.
On 23rd December 2020, the Union Cabinet finally restored the scheme by approving a budget of Rs 59000 crore. The government also replaced the ‘committed liability’ formula and decided to allocate Rs 35,534 crore with states bearing the rest.
This quick victory is proof-enough that the government will listen and take action when we collectively call them out. It has also left us feeling more inspired to run the campaigns that matter.
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