Bihar CM Nitish Kumar writes letters to 6.3 lakh students, asks them to use credit card scheme for higher studies
The move is seen as a major intervention by the CM to achieve the state government’s aim of raising the gross enrolment ratio in higher education in Bihar by 30 per cent.
PATNA: Bihar’s education department is sending by post a letter written by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to over 6.3 lakh students in the state urging them to avail of the state government’s student credit card scheme and continue higher studies.
Copies of the hand-written one-page letter in Hindi is being sent to all the 6,30,859 students who passed intermediate (Class 12) examinations, the results of which were declared last month. The government is spending nearly Rs 1.5 crore in postal costs in sending these letters by registered post, said sources.
The move is seen as a major intervention by the CM to achieve the state government’s aim of raising the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education in Bihar by 30 per cent with the help of the loan scheme. While the national average of GER in higher education stands at 24 per cent, it is 14.3 in Bihar.
Under the student credit card scheme, every student in Bihar pursuing higher education – both technical and general – is eligible to get a loan of Rs 4 lakh from the state government. The general rate of interest is 4 per cent, but it is just 1 per cent for differently-abled, transgender and female students.
Although the scheme, a part of the CM’s ‘seven resolves’ welfare programmes, was launched on October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti) in 2016, it has so far elicited lukewarm response from students. Disbursal of student credit cards was less than 2 per cent of the target last year. However, Bihar’s GER rose from 13.9 per cent to 14.3 per cent after the scheme was launched.
After banks were found showing little interest in disbursing the student credit card loans, the state government detached the scheme from the banks and handed it to the newly formed Bihar State Education Finance Corporation (BSEFC) in April. Previously, the state government had been giving guarantee to banks for the loans and the interest and, according to sources, ensuring the return of Rs 160 to the banks for every Rs 100 loan they disbursed.
While inaugurating BSEFC, Nitish Kumar had asked students of the state to avail of the scheme fearlessly and said that the state government may consider waiving the loans if the beneficiaries were unable to pay back after completing their studies.
Inspired by the scheme, All India Federation of Self-Financing Technical Institutions (AIFSFTI) had last month requested the central government and all state governments to implement schemes like Bihar’s student credit card scheme in the entire nation.