SHRESTHA, meaning noble or great in Sanskrit, is being marketed as a ticket to a better life for meritorious Dalit students, a vote bank the ruling BJP is working hard to retain. The government press release also dwells largely on merit, an oft-mentioned turn of phrase in the discourse on reservation in higher education.
A union government initiative for Dalit or Scheduled Caste students will be launched tomorrow, a government press release announced today.
The Scheme for Residential Education for Students in Targeted Areas, (acronym, SHRESHTA) has been designed to fund and provide quality education and opportunities for students from among the Scheduled Caste, as per the Constitutional mandate. The scheme will be launched on Friday by the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr Virendra Kumar.
The press release says, “students from the Scheduled Caste communities, for long been subjects to inequality, were kept out of quality education and a situation that perpetuates the disadvantages carried forward for generations of lack of adequate education.”
“The Governmental efforts to spread educational facilities without discrimination have worked well in achieving near universal access,” it adds, admitting that, however, the objective of providing access to quality education that provides a level playing field is still elusive.
The scheme will cover approximately 3,000 students, selected through a National Entrance Test for SHRESHTA (NETS). The selected students will then be admitted to the best private residential schools affiliated to the CBSE for their further school education.
SHRESHTA has been conceived to provide access to high quality residential education to meritorious students from Scheduled Caste communities whose parents’ annual income is up to Rs. 2.5 Lakh per annum. The education for these students will be free of cost from grades 9 through 12.
Ticket to higher education?
SHRESTHA, meaning noble or great in Sanskrit, is being marketed as a ticket to a better life for meritorious Dalit students, a vote bank the ruling BJP is working to retain. In fact, the government press release, as also the acronym dwells largely on merit, an oft-mentioned turn of phrase in the discourse on reservation in educational institutions, especially for higher, professional education.
The scheme is exclusively for Dalit or Scheduled Caste school students, according to the government’s announcement. The press release does not mention if tribal or Adivasi students are covered under the scheme.
The education ministry together with CBSE has selected the best performing private residential CBSE-affiliated schools that have had a consistently good board result over the last five years.
To avoid any hardship to the selected students, the schools will be provided full year’s fee, including hostel fee in one go through a simplified process. Selected students will also go through two rounds of counselling.
Students will also be able to avail of a three-month long bridge course to adapt in the new environment of the selected schools. The bridge course will be conducted outside school hours after identifying the individual academic requirements, to ensure that SC students of the Scheme, can catch up with the rest of the students in the class.
Scholarships will cover the school fee (including tuition fee) and hostel fee (including mess charges). The annual support to students will vary from Rs 1 lakh for a ninth grade student to Rs 1.35 lakh for a twelfth grade student. Students in the tenth grade will get Rs 1.10 lakhs each and students studying in the eleventh grade will get Rs 1.25 lakhs each.
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