New Delhi: Nearly 500 female students from Jammu and Kashmir and a similar number from Northeastern states were awarded the scholarship ‘Pragati’ by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for the year 2020-21.
A technical education scholarship, ‘Pragati’ is awarded to female students pursuing courses such as engineering and management among others, and is awarded for both diploma and degree-level courses.
The 2020-21 tally of scholarship awardees is a massive jump from 2019-20, when zero students from J&K and only eight students from the Northeastern states were able to secure this scholarship. A similar trend was seen in 2018-19 as well, ThePrint has learnt.
According to authorities, the spike in scholarships is indicative of an increased interest in technical education among women, especially from remote areas.
“We have awarded scholarships to women from some of the most untouched regions like Poonch, Ganderbal, Doda, Kishtwar in J&K and some backward regions of Tripura and Nagaland. This shows that there is interest among women to pursue technical education and if given financial support, they will definitely participate,” a senior official from AICTE told ThePrint.
This rise can also be attributed to an increase in the number of scholarships offered as well as a change in policy.
Till the 2019-20 academic session, the council offered 4,000 scholarships but from 2020, the number was increased to 10,000.
Furthermore, till last year the scholarships were handed out based on merit. However, in 2020, the council decided that the applications of all poor female students from some states and Union Territories — namely J&K, Ladakh, Andaman and Nicobar, Daman and Diu and the Northeastern states — will be accepted, irrespective of merit.
Increase in scholarships to boost scheme, authorities say
According to AICTE, 110 girls from J&K received the scholarship for degree-level courses while 370 received it for diploma courses. In the Northeast, a total of 253 students at the degree level and 251 students at the diploma level have been granted scholarships. Most of them have been awarded to students from Assam.
Authorities noted that the increased participation of women from J&K and the Northeast will boost the scheme further since the aim of the programme is to involve more women from all corners of the country.
“More scholarships for women from J&K and northeast is definitely encouraging for us. While the reason behind more participation this year is the better dissemination of information about the scheme from the state and district level, it just shows that there has been interest among women to pursue technical courses,” the official quoted above said.
A look at the technical education data by AICTE reveals that in the past three years, the number of female students who enrolled in various technical courses across Jammu and Kashmir has hovered around the 1,000-mark. Meanwhile, the enrollment of male students in these courses is twice as high in the state.
It’s a similar situation in the Northeast. In Assam alone, male students pursuing technical education are atleast four times higher than female students. In 2020-21, for example, 1,895 female students were enrolled in these courses vis-a-vis 5,374 male students.
AICTE officials said this gender gap could be minimised if women are provided better financial opportunities such as the Pragati scholarship.
Inaugurated in 2014 with an aim to encourage female students towards technical education, the scholarship is granted for three-year diploma courses and four-year degree courses. It provides Rs 50,000 as a lump-sum amount for the payment of college fees and purchase of computers, stationary items, books and other necessities.