10 Million Girls To Get Paid To Study After Class VIII !

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) More than ten million backward-- including scheduled caste and tribe-- and minority school girls may benefit from a government move to pay them to continue studies after eighth grade, according to the Human Resource Development Ministry .

The move involves putting Rs 3,000 each in eligible girls' name in fixed deposit in a public sector bank or post office in an effort to remedy factors forcing them to drop out of school after class VIII.

Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education announced last month was described last evening as likely to benefit not only scheduled caste and tribe girls but also those belonging to minority and other backward classes.

The Ministry cited a 2004-05 study as having shown that roughly two out of three girls entering school drop out and do not make it to Class X.

''The drop out rates of girls from classes I-VIII was about 50.8 per cent. For classes I-X the drop out rate of girls was about 64 per cent in the same year. Hence, only 36 per cent of the country's girl students could be retained up to class X,'' the Ministry said.

It saw this as ''the combined result of several socio economic factors, but a major contributor is no doubt the inability of the parents to afford the cost of education of girl child.'' The Scheme will cover scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya girls who pass eighth class and enrol in the ninth class of state or union territory government run or aided or local body schools starting 2008-09.

The Kasturba Gandhi residential schools admit SC, ST, OBC and minority girls, the Ministry pointed out.

The scheme will target 23.63 lakh girls in 2008-09, 24.81 lakh in 2009-10, 26.04 lakh in 2010-11 and 27.35 lakh in 2011-12, including respectively 11.91 lakh, 12.50 lakh, 13.12 lakh and 13.78 lakh girls from Kasturba Gandhi schools, the Ministry said.

To be eligible, a girl who joins class IX should be unmarried and below 16 years of age as on March 31.

Married girls or those studying in private unaided schools are excluded as are students enrolled in Central government-run schools.

No premature withdrawal will be allowed, and the account mature when the girl turns 18.

Beneficiaries must produce the class X pass certificate and a certificate from the Principal or Head of the school that she continued her study for at least two years after enrolling.

The bank holding the matured amount in the interest bearing account will then be authorised to transfer it to a savings account in the girl's name.

The Ministry said it would place no income-related restriction in granting incentive to girls, as the intended beneficiaries ''would generally be from disadvantaged section of the society.'' The financial implication of the scheme in the remaining four years of 11th Five Year Plan is Rs 1556.73 crore-- Rs 56.73 crore more than Rs 1500 crore allotted for it in 11th Five Year Plan, the Ministry said.

As much as one per cent of the total incentive amount each year will be spent on administration, monitoring and evaluation.

The Scheme will be evaluated after two years to improve on it.

UNI MJ RP HS1517

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