Dalit Youth Support Program

Amongst the programs that We have initiated the most significant one and the one that is ground breaking and has the capacity to bring about long term change in the lives of the young people,students by ensuring that they have a meaningful education and employment is the Dalit Youth Support Program (DYSP). One glance at the statistics related to the education status of the Dalit youth will prove the point as to why it is such an important and mould breaking initiative. Among the literates, 39.7 per cent of Scheduled Castes (SCs also known as Dalits- the oppressed) in Bihar, India, are either without any educational level or have attained education below primary level. The proportion of literates who have attained education up to primary and middle levels constitute 28.4 per cent & 13.1 per cent respectively. Only 15.1 per cent SC literates are educated up to matric/ secondary/higher secondary etc. The percentages for Higher and technical education are further appalling only 3.6% of SCs are able to become Graduates & above level while only 0.1 are able to achieve non-technical & technical diplomas. In response to the data mentioned above on the educational attainment of the underprivileged SCs, I did an analysis of the schemes and programs existing for them, during the course of the research I came across that there was a scheme in place since 1944 to ensure that SC,ST students have access to higher education and that money is not a deterrent. The scheme known as Post Matric Scholarship it aims to provide financial assistance to students to students belonging to scheduled castes for pursuing post matriculation courses through recognised institutes. Under the scheme the course fee, maintenance allowance, incidental costs and other allowances are provided by the Government. The scheme has been revised in 2003 and 2010 to include changes in income ceiling of the families, maintenance allowance and grouping of courses..

The study also revealed that the Bihar Government was returning the funds as there were no takers till 2011 the funds were returned to the Government of India as they were unspent. I realised that there was a huge potential in the scheme to provide professional and technical education to the Scheduled Caste& Tribe studentsThrough the existing network of the youth we did a survey of the scheduled caste& Tribe youths as well as started awareness generation program on the components of the scheme in 2011. I also advocated with the Mahadalit Vikas Mission (a program for empowerment of dalits within dalits) set up by Government of Bihar and Department of Social Justice for publicizing the scheme to benefit the deserving youth. In collaboration with the Government we have been raising awareness about the course and mobilize, aware, teach and place/Admit 10th, 12th and Graduates student of the marginalized section of the society boys and girls to various professional courses like Diploma engineering, Pharmacy, Hotel Management, Bachelor of Business Management (BBA), Nursing, Dental and Master of Business Administration in the partner educational institutions as per the availability of seats. We prepare the students before they begin their formal course through life skills, English learning training and tutoring them in their relevant course to ensure their retention. As these students have low exposure levels and low self-esteem capacity building is important to encourage them to complete their selected courses. The uniqueness of the scheme and my role is:

  • I was instrumental in publicising the scheme till now we have been able to benefit 21800 boys and girls through this scheme.
  • SC/ST students are able to get admission in technical and professional courses of their own choices which can change the geography of their future and their communities as it will give them access to better job opportunities.
  • Realizing the importance of preparing students before they begin their courses the life skills, English language training and basic course work education through my organization has assisted in retention of the students in the course.
  • The entire cost of their education is borne by the State.
  • Most of the beneficiaries come from the family income group less than 4 USD per day.
  • It will bridge the caste and class gap and will empower the youth from marginalized communities. It will empower the young people to make their own choices and will motivate the community to educate children as they will be able to see value in the education and its real time example of their own.
  • The youth will contribute to the growing Indian economy which requires skilled professionals.
  • The youth from underprivileged backgrounds are getting admission in the premier professional Institutes.
  • The educational institutes are also supporting the cause in the sense that the institutes collect fees in advance but due to our advocacy they have agreed to wait for Government scholarships to get credited to their accounts after one year of the course. The scholarship does not cover food expenses but as part of their social responsibility the Institutes have agreed to pay for accommodation of the students. The social and economic dividends of the initiatives are manifold from addressing caste and class based inequities to active contribution in building the Indian economy. It will empower the families of the young people and in turn their communities; it will raise the living standard of the family and improve their purchasing power in the long term which will result in better living.

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