Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has requested the Union government to reduce the eligibility criteria or minimum percentage marks from 50 per cent to 45 per cent for giving scholarships to students belonging to minority communities. A letter in this regard has been sent by the Chief Minister to the Union Minister of Minority Affairs.
Presently, there are three scholarship schemes for minority communities namely, pre-matric scholarship for students of classes I to X, post-matric scholarship from classes XI to PhD and merit-cum-means scholarship for technical and professional courses at under-graduate and postgraduate levels.
The scholarships are awarded to the students who have secured more than 50 per cent marks in the previous final examination and whose parents’ annual income from all sources do not exceed
Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh for school and higher education respectively. Among the total scholarships, 30 per cent have been earmarked for girls.
According to the State Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education department, the scholarship scheme aims at empowerment through education and has the potential to help in the upliftment of the socio-economic conditions of the minority communities.
Relaxing the eligibility criteria for availing the scheme would help more students to apply for the scholarships. It will encourage parents from minority communities to ensure their children’s schooling, said an official.
In 2014, a total of 4.8 lakh students from Bengal availed the scholarships under these categories. The number of students from Bengal who received the scholarships was the highest in the country.
Prior to this, the Chief Minister had urged the Union Minority Affairs Ministry to extend the deadline for applying for online scholarships which the latter had accepted.