Maharashtra govt announces free higher education for EWS, SEBC, OBC girls in state

Jul 09, 2024

In a significant move ahead of the upcoming assembly elections, the Maharashtra government announced on Monday that higher education for girls from the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) will be made free. According to officials, this initiative is part of a broader women-focused policy. The decision, which also includes waiving tuition and examination fees for orphaned students regardless of gender, was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The policy change was formalised through a government resolution (GR).

Rs 906 crore aid for female students

The decision will be implemented from academic year 2024-25 and is expected to cost Rs 906 crore, it added. A GR said female students seeking admission to recognised vocational courses through Centralised Admission Process in government colleges, aided private colleges and semi-aided private colleges and non-aided colleges, polytechnic, autonomous government universities, open universities can avail the facility.

Wide range of courses covered, specific eligibility criteria outlined

These include courses run by higher and technical education, medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, animal husbandry, pisciculture, dairy development departments. However, students from private autonomous universities/ self-funded universities, those enrolling through management and institutional quota will not be eligible for the scheme. The GR said female students whose annual family income is Rs 8 lakh or less and who are from EWS, SEBC and OBC are eligible for the free waiver. New admissions as well students currently pursuing their education degree will also be eligible for the scheme.

Opposition questions funding for new schemes

In the state budget, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced Mukhyamantri Annapoorna Yojana (aimed at giving three free cylinders to women), Mukhyamantri Yuva Karyaprashikshan Yojana and Mukhyamantri Krishi Pump Yojana, Mukhyamantri Majhi Ladki Bahin Yojana (eligible women in the age group 21 to 60 years will get a monthly allowance of Rs 1,500) and a scheme to provide free education to women).

The opposition has questioned the source of funding for these schemes and claimed they are aimed to woo women voters ahead of the state assembly polls. However, Chief Minister Shinde has stressed that monetary provision has been made for the schemes and the initiatives will be permanent.

(With inputs from PTI)