Maharashtra Waives Exam Fee After SHRC Summons

Maharashtra Waives Exam Fee After SHRC Summons

The fee waiver was among eight measures the government announced to ease the economic situation in various parts of Marathwada and Vidarbha region reeling under drought and drought-like conditions.

Musab QaziUpdated: Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 10:57 AM IST
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Mumbai: Following the State Human Rights Commission’s (SHRC) summons to Maharashtra government officials over their alleged failure to implement an exam fee waiver scheme for drought-affected students, the latter released Rs 3.7 crore now to fund the programme.

Last month, the commission asked the officials for a fact-finding inquiry about the scheme’s implementation following a plea by Student Helping Hands, a Pune-based organisation. The student body had claimed that the educational institutes had failed to comply with the fee waiver.

The fee waiver was among eight measures the government announced to ease the economic situation in various parts of Marathwada and Vidarbha region reeling under drought and drought-like conditions. 

Under this scheme, the government spared exam charges for students in classes 10 to 12 and higher education with annual family income under Rs 8 lakh.

Kuldeep Ambekar, the organisation’s president, said a clause in the government directive deprived students of benefits by excluding those already receiving scholarships or educational aid.

"This condition created confusion among students, with many of them failing to apply for the fee waiver. Even those who did were denied this facility by their educational institutes owing to this clause," he said.

The commission said after last month’s hearing that facts presented by the students show that the educational institutes aren’t ready and willing to act according to the GR, therefore, students from Marathwada and Vidarbha suffered. 

"It is to be noted that it is the duty of the government to provide good education to the students along with other facilities. Considering these facts clearly shows that the human rights of the students are being affected because of inaction on the part of the government," read the commission's order.

Following the order, the state Directorate of Higher Education issued a letter to colleges seeking beneficiaries’ data. The organisation had also compiled a list of 769 drought-affected students who couldn't avail the benefits of the programme. 

Ambekar said that the government should have extended the benefit of the scheme to all drought-affected students, instead of limiting it to those who apply for it. "The number of students affected by drought runs in lakhs. However, the government never collected any data about the beneficiaries of the scheme. It appears that the universities and colleges were unwilling to implement the programme," he said.

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