London, May 4 : It has taken the British government more than 487 million pounds so far this academic year, to make teenagers stay in school and get an education, according to figures.
The weekly payments, of up to 30 pounds a week, are given to 538,000 teenagers in sixth forms and colleges, under the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme.
Bonuses are also available to high achievers, so the most a pupil could receive in a year is 1,400 pounds.
Ministers insist that the payments, which are linked to attendance, have had a significant impact on the number of 16 and 17-year-olds staying on in full-time education.
Critics argue that many would have stayed on anyway and claim the money is being wasted on nights out rather than being used for books, travel and food.
Figures from the Learning and Skills Council show the scheme has cost 487.3 million pounds so far this academic year and is expected to rise to more than 500 million pounds by the end of the summer term.
"It's questionable whether EMAs have had any impact on education, so it is staggering that so much money has been handed out. Trying to fix everything with targets and bribery from Westminster is no solution to the education system's problems," the Telegraph quoted Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, as saying.
The EMA scheme was launched in 2004 to encourage teenagers from low and middle income families to stay in full-time education.
Any pupil whose annual household income is less than 30,810 pounds a year is entitled to money, with those whose income is less than 20,817 pounds taking the maximum 30 pounds per week.