The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a total investment of Rs 59,048 crore in the centrally-sponsored scheme ‘Post Matric Scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (PMS-SC)’ to benefit more than four crore SC students in the next five years.

The PMS-SC allows students to pursue any post-matric course starting from Class 11 and onwards, with the government meeting the cost of education.

Of the total investment, the Central government would spend Rs 35,534 crore (60%) and the balance would be spent by the State governments. This replaces the existing ‘committed liability’ system and brings greater involvement of the Centre in this crucial scheme, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs said in a statement.

The focus of the PMS-SC scheme would be on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency.

As part of the initiative, the government will launch a campaign to enroll the students, from the poorest households passing the 10th standard, in the higher education courses of their choice. It is estimated that 1.36 crore such poorest students, who are currently not continuing their education beyond 10th standards would be brought into the higher education system in the next five years.

Starting from 2021-22, the Central share (60%) in the scheme would be released on DBT mode directly into the bank accounts of the students as per the fixed time schedule, after ensuring that the concerned State government has released their share.

The Central assistance which was around Rs 1,100 crore annually during 2017-18 to 2019-20 would be increased more than five times to be around Rs 6,000 core annually during 2020-21 to 2025-26.