BENGALURU: In a grand sweep, the Karnataka government has decided to make education free for all girls from Class 1 to graduation level in all public and aided private schools and colleges, barring only professional institutions, from the next academic year. The earmarked funds, however, are anything but grand.
“We expect around 18 lakh students whose parents’ income would be less than Rs 10 lakh to opt for this scheme and are planning to earmark Rs 110 crore,” higher education minister Basavaraj Rayareddi said, hoping only the poor would avail of the scheme. But even by that arithmetic, each student would get just over Rs 611 a year. Similar schemes have been launched in Telangana and Punjab. While Telangana has announced free education for girls from kindergarten to post graduation, Punjab
recently fulfilled a key poll promise by extending the scheme till PhD.
“We are not copying their schemes,” Rayreddi said. “It’s a model one and a major leap towards women’s empowerment. The scheme is for all girls unlike their schemes which are restricted to certain classes and income groups.” He said the government would reimburse all fees except examination fees of girl students of Class 1 to graduation level, irrespective of their income. The scheme will apply to all private aided and government schools and colleges. The students, he added, must pay the fees first at the time of admission and later get it reimbursed by the government. The entire tuition fee will be waived even if students opt for popular women’s colleges like Mount Carmel College
in Bengaluru, he said.
The initiative, the government stressed, was to impart free education to underprivileged girls who generally drop out of school after Class 10, especially in rural areas. “It is mainly in rural areas where girls come from families earning less than Rs 10 lakh that the government needs to extend incentives. But the government will not discriminate between cities and rural areas and poor and rich. It is ready to reimburse fees to all girl students,” he said. Education is already free for girls from poor families till Class VIII under the Right To Education (RTE) Act.