New Delhi, May 9 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today gave the green signal for the implement of the Centrally-sponsored National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship during the 11th Plan to arrest dropouts among the poor.
At a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said: "Each year, at least one lakh scholarships of Rs 6,000 per annum would be awarded to students at the Class IX level till Class XII."
"The objective of the scheme is to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to check their drop-out at Class VIII and to encourage them to continue in the secondary stage up to Class XII," he said.
"Only students, whose parental income from all sources is not more than Rs 1.5 lakh, would be eligible to avail the scholarship, meant for students studying in government, local body and government-aided schools only," he added.
A selection test would be held at the State level for students of Class VIII which would be conducted along with the first stage selection test of the National Talent Search Examination conducted by the State governments under the guidance of NCERT, he stressed.
Chidambaram said this scheme was announced in the 2007-08 Budget and Rs 750 crore was allocated and another equal amount was allocated in this year's Budget.
Reservation would be applicable as per the norms existing in different States and Rs 6,000 per annum would be given as scholarship to selected students for four years till Class XII, he added.
The selected students would be given ATM cards of the State Bank of India and they can directly operate the account in which the scholarship would be deposited, he said.
To fund this scheme, a corpus of Rs 750 crore would be created with SBI in 2008-09 and a like amount would be added to the fund every year in the next three years, Chidambaram said.