Express News Service
KOCHI: The crisis brought on by the pandemic may have seen the government launching several welfare measures such as distribution of grocery kits to all sections of people and also to the children of govenment schools. However, the same government has decided to cut down the annual educational scholarship for special children from Rs 28,500 to Rs 12,000.
In a state where there are 288 special schools, the decision by the State Planning Department to cut down the scholarship fee has come as blow to the parents of nearly 68,000 students. The reason cited by the authorities is that the schools are not functioning due to the pandemic.
“The fund is usually provided by the local self-government department (LSGD) of which 50 per cent is contributed by the respective grama panchayat, 25 per cent by the block panchayat and 25 per cent by district panchayat. However, following the new decision, the funds this year were not released by the local bodies. They are supposed to allot it from the own fund of local bodies,” said Parents Association of Intellectually Disabled Kerala (PAID) state president George K M.
The annual scholarship consists of educational assistance of Rs 12,000, dearness allowance of Rs 12,000, dress allowance of Rs 2,000 and books and tour allowance of Rs 2,500. “This year, it was decided to provide only Rs 12,000 as educational assistance. Moreover, the parents are put through further hardships for availing the scholarship. They will have to do the paper work to procure school and medical certificates. Even after submitting applications, many parents are yet to get the amount disbursed,” said George.
The parents had staged a protest last month at their respective local bodies. “As we are not able to directly meet the ministers due to the pandemic, we have filed a memorandum to the CM, minister for local bodies and health minister. However, no action was taken,” he said. PAID has put forward the suggestion of allotting the government’s funds as a Covid-19 relief package to the families, if the government cannot disburse the funds as the schools stay closed.
“Many parents will have to sit together with their child as there are no schools. They cannot go for work leaving them at home. The amount which they receive as annual scholarship was a big relief to them,” George said.