New Delhi: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has, through a survey, found that coaching institutes receiving government grants to provide free tutoring to Schedule Caste (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates for competitive exams are “grossly misusing” the funds.
The institutes are expected to provide free coaching to the beneficiaries for competitive exams such as UPSC, JEE and NEET among others in return for the government money.
But ThePrint has learnt that the ministry conducted a survey and found ground irregularities in the scheme.
The survey, carried out by the newly constituted Project Monitoring Unit to keep an eye on all projects, included a random selection of 10 per cent of the students enrolled with the registered coaching institutes and had supposedly availed the scheme.
However, the unit found that many of these students had never enrolled or attended the free coaching facility, while others had to pay from their own pockets.
“A survey of 10 per cent of the students chosen at random who were supposed to have attended the coaching was carried out,” said a senior ministry official. “But a number of students said they had never attended or enrolled at the coaching institute. Many also said that they did attend it but had to make their own payment, which is illegal.”
Following this, the government has issued a show-cause notice to 36 coaching institutes, including some top ones for the alleged fraudulent claims. There are a total of 41 coaching institutes being funded under the scheme.
The show cause notice sought to know why these institutes flouted the norms of the scheme and why fraudulent claims were filed.
A second senior ministry official told ThePrint that strict action will be taken if discrepancies are found and it could result in the grants being cancelled.
“We conducted three session comprising 100 students each. Of all these, only one student has complained that he/she was not enrolled. We have shared biometric attendance and all necessary details with the ministry following the show-cause notice and we hope the matter will be resolved soon,” said a representative of one of the coaching centres under the scanner.
The coaching scheme
Under the scheme, the government provides free coaching to 4,000 economically disadvantaged SC and OBC candidates to enable them to appear in competitive examinations and subsequently obtain an appropriate job in the public and private sectors.
“The free coaching is to prepare these students for competitive exams such as JEE, NEET and even employment-related exams,” said the first senior official.
According to sources, the government, on average, spends around Rs 40,000 on each student for the scholarship. “The budget for the scheme is around Rs 16 crore,” said the second ministry official.
Under the scheme, the state government recommends a coaching institute and then an MoU is signed between them. Following this, the coaching institute is given the mandate to enroll students from SC and OBC categories. The funds are provided by the the central government.
The exams covered under the government scheme include Group A and Group B examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Boards (RRB), State Service Commissions, Public Sector Units or the exams conducted for admission in IIT called JEE, NEET, Law colleges, among others. The scheme also covers examinations like the GRE, GMAT, SAT.
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