Rejuvenated by the success of the Kanyashree Prakalpa, on being shortlisted among the best projects in public administration by the United Nations (2014-15), the West Bengal government is taking a step forward to empower girls beyond the ambit of formal education.
The scheme envisages providing basic education through open schooling, skill development and livelihood support to school dropouts.
The government is seeking technical and fund support from World Bank for introducing what it calls Kanyashree Plus from 2016-17. Women and Child Development and Social Welfare department officials have already had discussions with the World Bank authorities. The five-year scheme ending in 2019-20 aims at including another 1.3 million girls in the list of beneficiaries, over and above the existing 2.5 million girls covered under the existing Kanyashree project.
While the existing project offers annual scholarship to unmarried school girls between Class VIII and Class XII followed by a one-time grant of Rs 18,000 soon after they attain 18 years, the Kanyashree Plus scheme eyes on those who are not enrolled in schools. The purpose is to include them in the education system through open schooling and vocational training, deliver life skills and also facilitate economic empowerment.
The state government also wants to introduce merit-based scholarship for Kanyashree beneficiaries opting for higher education. It also proposes tie-ups with industrial training institutes to offer vocational courses to school pass outs.
The government wants the World Bank fund support to bear the additional financial liability apart from the budgetary allocations for the existing Kanyasharee project.
The women and child development and social welfare department is looking up to the Bank for leveraging resources in terms of training and entering into contracts with nationally acclaimed placement agencies for cementing the future of the girls.
The state government wants the Kanyashree Plus scheme to improve the status of women in Bengal.
After checking the number of school dropouts among girls and restricting child marriage through Kanyashree prakalpo, now it is the time to equip the girls for life. Hence Kanyashree Plus prakalpo will be soon announced.
Through the project the state government will try to ensure onward study of the girls after they attain 18 years of age. They will be imparted skill development courses, will undergo counseling and will be given placement opportunities.
At the moment there is no plan to offer scholarships. The financial details are being worked out.