J-K schol­ar­ship hold­ers left high and dry with­out ac­cess to grants

NO HELP Changes in Prime Min­is­ter’s Schol­ar­ship Scheme for J and K stu­dents lead to con­fu­sion as par­ents of stu­dents try des­per­ately to get money for chil­dren’s tu­ition fee, ac­com­mo­da­tion

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

The story of labourer Ghu­lam Mo­hindin Sofi, whose son scored 91% in Class 12 and se­cured a seat i n a pres­ti­gious Delhi Univer­sity (DU) col­lege un­der the Prime Min­is­ter’s Spe­cial Schol­ar­ship Scheme (PMSSS) for stu­dents of Jammu and Kash­mir, can move any­body to tears – ex­cept per­haps the of­fi­cials of the All In­dia Coun­cil for Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (AICTE), the body which is im­ple­ment­ing the PMSSS scheme.

Sofi is a daily wage labourer i n Rakhshalina Tain­gan, a re­mote vil­lage in Budgam dis­trict in Kash­mir which was rav­aged by floods last year. De­spite fi­nan­cial con­straints and other fam­ily prob­lems, his stu­dious son man­aged to score 91% in Class 12. He won the PMSSS award early t his month i n AICTE’s coun­selling in Sri­na­gar and came to Delhi for ad­mis­sion to Ram­jas Col­lege, DU.

Imag­ine Sofi’s shock then when he was told by the col­lege to ar­range for his son’s ad­mis­sion fees and PG ac­com­mo­da­tion as the funds for the schol­ar­ship had not been re­leased. “I am a very poor man. I have to sell my wife’s jew­ellery to ar­range for ₹ 20,000. I bor­rowed ₹ 40,000 from rel­a­tives for the ad­mis­sion fee and PG ac­com­mo­da­tion, but I don’t know when my son will be given the schol­ar­ship money. He is very hard work­ing and is des­per­ate to con­tinue his stud­ies. I plead to the AICTE of­fi­cials to give him the schol­ar­ship amount quickly,” Sofi told this cor­re­spon­dent.

Con­fu­sion rules supreme when it comes to the PMSSS – some­thing that HT Ed­u­ca­tion has been high­light­ing over the last few months. Not just Sofi, fam­i­lies of a num­ber of schol­ar­ship win­ners are des­per­ately try­ing to get their chil­dren ad­mit­ted to col­leges in DU and other in­sti­tutes through PMSSS, which was launched in 2011 to en­sure that 5,000 fi­nan­cially needy but tal­ented stu­dents from the trou­bled state of J and K get grants ev­ery year to study in ‘peace­ful’ cities.

What has com­pounded the prob­lem for these stu­dents is that some rules of PMSSS have been changed this year. Ear­lier, t he g rant money would go di­rectly to the in­sti­tutes where the stu­dents were ad­mit­ted. Now, the money is re­leased in the stu­dents’ ac­counts – and it takes some time to be cred­ited. This means col­leges need ready cash for ad­mis­sion fee etc, which be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­straints, the par­ents can­not af­ford.

Avan­tika Dutta was re­fused ad­mis­sion last year in a DU col­lege de­spite be­ing given a pro­vi­sional ad­mis­sion let­ter from AICTE. This year she won the schol­ar­ship again and was lucky enough to get eco­nomic (hons) in Guru Gobind Singh Col­lege of Com­merce (GGSCC), DU. As her fam­ily was un­able to pay ₹ 20,000 for the ad­mis­sion fee, the col­lege prin­ci­pal was kind enough to ac­cept ₹ 8,000 as ad­mis­sion fee, al­low­ing her to pay the re­main- ing amount af­ter three months. “I had to ask friends and fam­ily for the money. Then, when I had to or­gan­ise pay­ing guest ac­com­mo­da­tion (PG) for her, her land­lord asked for ₹ 14,000 as rent and ad­vance. I man­aged some­how to give him ₹ 6,000 and promised to pay the re­main­ing amount within a fort­night,” says Dutta’s mother.

As Dutta has not re­ceived her grant money even af­ter a month of join­ing col­lege, the PG owner is threat­en­ing to throw her out. Her fa­ther, an au­torick­shaw driver, says he has no idea how he will man­age to keep her in col­lege. “If we have three days of hol­i­days it be­comes dif­fi­cult for me to even or­gan­ise reg­u­lar meals for the fam­ily. How will I be able to keep her in a rented ac­com­mo­da­tion,” he asks.

Another par­ent said he had to sell his land to get the money to fund his daugh­ter’s stay and tu­ition fee. “If the scheme is meant for poor stu­dents, how will they be able to or­gan­ise cash for their im­me­di­ate needs of fees and ac­com­mo­da­tion?”

Though AICTE in­tro­duces new changes to the scheme to


Schol­ar­ship hold­ers from J and K at the AICTE of­fice en­quir­ing about the sta­tus of their grants.

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