Vipin K. Tripathi


(The text of Tripathi’s letter to Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat)


“The Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Minorities was launched by the Central Government on April 1, 2008. For Classes I-V, it provides maintenance allowance of Rs. 100 pm (for 10 months) where as for VI-X it provides admission fees actual up to Rs. 500 pa, tuition fees actual up to Rs. 350 pm (for 10 months) and the maintenance allowance of Rs. 100 pm (for 10 months). More than twenty states have implemented the scheme. Gujarat has not yet accepted it.” This is the opening paragraph of Tripathi’s letter to Modi.


This puzzles me deeply, specially, when I view the ground realities of education in areas like Juhapura (Ahmedabad) where I have held Science and Mathematics workshops for students and teachers in last one year. In this locality of 2.5 lakh (250,000) population, mostly working class Muslims, 6000 children become eligible for admission to class I every year. Of these only 10% are admitted to four government primary schools (in the country 80% students go to government primary schools) and the rest are forced to go to low tuition (Rs. 100-200 pm) private schools or remain out of school. The government schools severely lack in facilities. Even durries or mats are not available to students. The quality of blackboards is extremely poor. The Gyaspur Bhatha Primary School, one of the biggest in the area, has over 800 students with 16 teachers but only 4 class rooms. The school runs in two shifts with two classes running in one room and some in corridors. If we do not treat children with dignity and teach them with care how could we expect them to go to schools. Until government provides a minimal level of schooling to children, State assistance to their education would remain mandatory. The low tuition private schools are not the places of privilege. They have meager facilities and can not afford to pay more than Rs.2000 pm to their teachers. Yet most such schools are doing better, in terms of teaching, than the government schools. Rs. 100 pm is the minimum State assistance that these children deserve.


The Ministry of Minority Affairs officials indicated to us that the Gujarat Government expressed its inability to implement the scheme until 100% grant (against the current Centre contribution of 75%) was provided by the Centre. Then Prof. A. Karia and I met the officers in the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Old Secretariat, Gandhinagar. They told us that the Gujarat Government finds the scheme discriminatory as the value of scholarship is higher than the ones given to SC/ST and OBC. But they could not tell us the difference in their values. When we contacted the MHRD and Dept of Social Justice and Empowerment, Delhi we were told that the SC/ ST and OBC scholarships at pre-matric level are given by the states and they can raise the amount to any desired level. The Central Government has scholarship scheme for wards of those engaged in unclean occupations. For classes I-V, it provides Rs. 40 pm for maintenance and Rs. 550 Ad-Hoc grant, amounting to Rs. 950 pa as against Rs. 1000 of the minority scholarship.


We believe, providing good education to every poor child is the fundamental responsibility of the state.  Rs. 100 pm is the minimum assistance that a class I-V child deserves. Rather than depriving the children of one poor community of assistance on the ground the value of scholarship for another poor community being lower, efforts must be initiated to raise the value of every scholarship to this minimal level. A more stark contrast could be the opening of IIT Gujarat, however, no one raised the argument that let us first open primary schools for every child so that the development of poor and rich is on the same scale. IITs have 22% reservation for SC/ ST but hardly 1.5 % Muslim children are there in their B.Tech. program.


I urge you (Narendra Modi) to kindly ponder over this issue and initiate the implementation of Pre-matric Scholarship Scheme for Minorities.

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