Stating that RTE covers compulsory education up to class 8th for all students, the government has now limited its pre-matric scholarship scheme meant for backward and minority communities to students of class 9th and 10th.

Earlier, the pre-matric scholarship used to cover education for grades 1 to 8 also belonging to SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.

The government, in a notice, justified its decision by underlining that the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 makes it obligatory for the government to provide free and compulsory elementary education (classes I to VIII) to each and every child.

“Accordingly only students studying in classes IX and X are covered under the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Likewise from 2022-23, the coverage under the pre-matric scholarship scheme of the Ministry of Minority Affairs shall also be for classes IX and X only,” the notice said.

The Institute Nodal Officer (INO)/District Nodal Officer (DNO)/State Nodal Officer (SNO) have been asked to verify the applications only for classes IX and X under the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme of the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

The decision has drawn a sharp reaction from political parties.

Congress MP Randeep Singh Surjewala said, for decades, children from SC/ST backgrounds have been getting scholarships from classes 1 to 8 but the government from 2022-23 has stopped the scholarship which is a “conspiracy” against the poor.

“The BJP has been continuously doing such things for the past 8 years whether it was cutting the budget of SC/ST/OBC and minorities or it was about atrocities against them or ending their welfare schemes and now this. We do not accept this. We will run a movement against it. Immediately take back this decision,” he said.

BSP leader Kunwar Danish Ali claimed that the government has found a new way to keep these poor children away from education by stopping the scholarship given to minority students (Class 1-8).

“Yes, don’t forget that educated children take the country forward irrespective of the community they belong to,” Ali tweeted.

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