NEW DELHI: Realising that children could be silent sufferers of the agrarian crisis witnessed across the country, the government has decided to provide free education to wards of farmers whose crops have failed due to drought or inclement weather.
According to a proposal sent to the Ministry of Human Resource Development by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the children of all farmers who apply for insurance cover under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), or have claimed any other kind of crop insurance, would now be entitled to free education under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.
Sources said the HRD Ministry has accepted the proposal in principle and that a meeting of all state Education Ministers and secretaries would be held on April 4 and 5 in Delhi to work out the modalities of the scheme.
“There are many farmers who were relatively well off before their crops failed and their children were going to good private schools,” a member of an NCPCR team, which went on a field visit to rural areas of the country to study the drought situation, told Express.
“We realised that such areas where crops have been ravaged have the maximum school dropout rates. Thus, we felt the need to move ahead with this kind of programme as primary education is a right under the Right to Education Act,” he said.
While the final contours of rolling out the programme are yet to be worked out, the proposal says that the government should provide funds directly to the schools where the children study.
“Calculations show that on its part, the government has to reimburse just `3,000 per student to each school, while the actual fees incurred by parents of children studying in private schools is much more,” the NCPCR member said. The scheme would not apply to students studying in government schools as education is already free there. “As of now, we are planning that whoever files for insurance cover under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana will get the benefit from this scheme”.
The NDA government launched the PMFBY in January this year. It envisages a uniform premium of 2 per cent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 per cent for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5 per cent.