Minority kids lose out on scholarships

There has been 20 pc rise in population of minority communities between 2001 and 2011 but govt uses 2001 census data to disburse scholarship to students
The population of Muslims in Gujarat was 45,92,854 in 2001. It jumped to 58,46,761 by 2011.While their numbers have increased by lakhs, the government continues to use 16-year-old data to disburse scholarship funds to minorities.

There has been a 20 per cent rise in the population of minority communities in the State between 2001 and 2011. Yet, the central government uses the 2001 census data to calculate the number of minority students who should receive scholarship.

Outdated figures

In a notification dated May 31, 2017, the Minority Affairs ministry issued directives for scholarships under prematric (Class 1 to 10), post-matric (class 11 and 12) and merit-cummeans (college and higher education) categories for 2017-18. The targets set for each State is as per the 2001 census figures. They do not account for the rise in minority population in the State between 2001and 2011. This means fewer number of students will receive scholarships. The pre-matric scholarship is given to 1.5% population of every minority community, post-matric to 0.25% of the population and merit-cum-means to 0.03% of the population. The scholarships are awarded to students of Muslims, Christians, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi and Jain communities. According to the circular, the students can belong to “government or private universities institutes colleges schools“.

Bereft of aid

The Centre has extended the deadline for submitting applications for minority scholarships to October 31. However, members of the minority communities fear that the erroneous calculation will rob children of their rightful support.

Zafia Mohammed, a 14-year-old studying in Class 10 at a school in Himmatnagar, says, “I secured scholarships for my previous classes. I have filed for a scholarship this year too. I hope I get. The scholarships go a long way in encouraging students from my community to study and make a future for themselves.“

Noorbhai Khan, the father of Class 5 student Armana and Class 8 student Nigar studying at Ankul school in Ahmedabad, says, “My son and daughter received scholarships earlier but not last year. Maybe, it was due to these skewed calculations. I hope the government realises how important such aid is for students who are deserving but too poor to afford good edu cation.“

Zarina Lilgar, the mother of Soban who studies in Shantiniketan school, says, “My son is in Class10. His father is a rickshaw driver and does not earn a lot. Scholarships enable and encourage him to study well.“

No rise in allocation

Taking exception to the use of old data to provide scholarship to minority students, Moin Khokhar of NGO Zubedar Sewa Ghar says, “We filled around 3,000 forms last year in Juhapura alone but more than half have not received scholarships. If the data is old, fewer students will receive aid. This will hamper their future as well as the future of the country.“

The minority population in the country has risen from 20 crore in 2001to 24.1 crore in 2011, says Mujahid Nafees, founder of Shala Mitra Sangh, an NGO working towards educational benefits of minorities in the State. He adds, “There has been no commensurate increase in the number of scholarships due to 20 per cent rise in minority population in the 10 years between 2001 and 2011. We have written a letter in this regard to the minority affairs ministry at the Centre.“

Rise in literacy

The literacy rate is another factor that has not been taken into account. The literacy rate of Gujarat was 69.14%, according to 2001census. This increased to 79.31% in the next10 years, as stated in the 2011Census. “However, this rise too was not accommodated in the scholarships while it is evident that more people in Gujarat would like to be educated,“ says The literacy rates of all minorities in India rose between 2001 and 2011.While their overall literacy rose from 59.1% to 68.5%, that of Christians rose from 80.3% to 84.5%, that of Sikhs from 69.4% to 75.4%, that of Buddhists from 72.7% to 81.3% and that of Jains from 94.1% to 94.9%.

Quantifying loss of benefit

Pre-Matric category: Scholarships given to every community is 1.5% of the population. Due to population increase, however, only 1.2% Muslims will get the benefit. Likewise, only 1.3% Christians, 1.2% Sikhs, 1.4% Jains and 0.90% Buddhists will benefit from the scheme.

Post-Matric category: Scholarships given to every community is 0.25% of population. However, due to population increase only 0.2% Muslims will get the benefit.Likewise, only 0.23% Christians, 0.2% Sikhs, 0.23% Jains and 0.15% Buddhists will benefit.

Merit-cum-means category: Scholarships given to every community is 0.03% of the population. However, it will benefit only 0.024% Muslims, 0.027% Christians, 0.024% Sikhs, 0.019% Buddhists and 0.028% Jains.

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