The Odisha Girls Incentive Programme (OGIP) is contributing towards improving secondary school enrolment, attendance and completion rates of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in Odisha through a system of direct transfer of scholarship to bank accounts of over 427,000 students.
The pre-matric scholarship scheme is being implemented by Government of Odisha, supported by the Department of International Development (DFID), UK, as a conditional cash transfer scheme, with scholarship being paid on achievement of 70% monthly attendance.
A state of art system to deliver scholarship directly to the bank account of the eligible students has been put in place under the technical assistance supported by DFID. In the year 2013-14 around 4.07 lakh students registered under the scheme and a sum of Rs.118 crores was disbursed directly to the bank account of the students.
Apart from the publicity of the scheme through various types of communication material, print media and student orientation programmes at the school level, awareness generation was carried out through a cadre of Block Coordinators through a ‘discussion’ and ‘household counselling’ approach.Once the students are informed of the scheme, they are urged to apply for it in the prescribed form and submit the required documents, such as, copy of bank passbook, caste certificate and income proof.
The block coordinators facilitate the opening of bank accounts and obtaining caste certificates , supported by the district administration.Application forms submitted by the students are scrutinised by the school principal and submitted to the Welfare Extension Officer of the block, who after due verification submits the same to the district office. A web-based online software is used for managing the disbursement of scholarship.
Data entry of the application form is carried out through an offline data entry software and synced to the live online database after verification.Details of attendance defaulters are also collected every month and recorded in the database. Thereafter, centralised disbursement of scholarship directly to the bank account of the eligible students is carried by the state ST & SC Development Department., through the State Treasury.
This initiative is a pioneering effort towards ‘education for all ‘and is focusing on encouraging children from the most backward and rural parts of Odisha to continue their studies.This has led to about 48 percent in decline in the drop-out rate and should be replicated in other states of India. By Ashwajit Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, IPE Global.