Education, though a fundamental right, is unaffordable to many. The current literacy rate of India stands at approximately 79.1%. The major reason for this is that the poor cannot afford to pay thousands of Rupees to educate their children. As a corrective step towards helping the economically weaker sections of the society have access to quality education, the Patna High Court has directed all the Universities in Bihar to reimburse the fee taken from students belonging to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe as well as the girl students within a month. This is in accordance with the policy that the Patna government passed in 2015 of offering free education to these students up to the post-graduation level. If the order is not followed, it will be considered contempt of court and will result in the derecognition of the universities and colleges.
As per the policy, the state government of Patna had passed an order stating that education institutes should not charge fees for master’s courses for SC/ ST and girl students. Nevertheless, many institutes in Bihar continued to charge fees to the students exempted.
Keeping in mind the 2015 policy, the Patna High Court has taken an action against those institutions that are not abiding by the state government’s decision.
A bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar, responding to a PIL, had directed that all the institutions in Bihar should immediately refund the amount if they had charged fees from SC/ST and girl students.
A similar step of reimbursing fees is also being taken by the Andhra Pradesh Government. The government launched a scheme ‘Jagananna Vidya Deevena’ to encourage students hailing from poor economic backgrounds to pursue higher education. Under this scheme, the fee of students belonging to the backward classes, minorities and differently-abled categories will be reimbursed.
The Andhra Pradesh government also has a scheme in place called the ‘Jagananna Foreign Education Benefit’ for students who want to study abroad. The scheme aims at extending financial assistance to meritorious students who wish to pursue higher education from high-ranking foreign universities. Further, the scheme guarantees 100% fee reimbursement to students who succeed in getting admission into any top 100 universities in the world.
The Centre, as well as the state governments, are taking steps toward increasing the literacy rate of the youth in India, by making education affordable to all. Many non-profit organisations too are aiding underprivileged students in having access to quality education by the means of charity. Education Trust (Nanhi Kali), Udaan India Foundation, eVidyaloka, Aarti for Girls, Vidya and Child, are some of the non-profit organizations working towards the same cause.
Further, privileged individuals like us should also either donate or join such organisations and volunteer in providing quality and free education to the underprivileged.