COIMBATORE: The headmaster of a government school in Sulur has taken back the scholarship amount from five Class 12 students belonging to the SC community and one from ST, allegedly on the grounds that they dropped out of school last academic year. Every year, the State government sanctions Rs 2500 to SC and Rs 2700 to ST students.
One of the students, P Manikandan (name changed), told The New Indian Express, "I met with an accident and was injured. Due to this, I could not continue my studies except for the first month and dropped out. A month back, I was credited with Rs 2500."
"A few days later, the HM called me over the phone and said he would issue a transfer certificate (TC) only if I returned the scholarship amount. When I asked him the reason, he said I did not attend school and hence was not eligible for the scholarship. Believing this, I returned the scholarship amount to the headmaster," he said.
Manikandan, who dropped out of the Science stream, has applied to write the supplementary examination.
Another student who dropped out and is working as coolie, on condition of anonymity, told The New Indian Express, "After I received scholarship amount of Rs 2,700, the HM called me and said the government credited the scholarship by mistake and that I must return the amount in order to get the TC. After I gave him the amount, he issued the TC."
R Ramkumar, president of TN Teachers and School Protection Association, condemned the HM and said, "The HM should not have forced students to return the amount which Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department gave. Stringent action should be taken against him for violating norms. There is no guidelines regarding the scholarship amount of students who drop out of schools."
City-based activist M Nagendaran said, "To abolish middlemen, governments credit the scholarship amount in the students' bank account directly. Despite this, some HMs loot this amount by exploiting their ignorance. Top officers failed to ensure scholarship to the students."
Repeated attempts to reach the school HM KR Kumar went in vain. Chief Educational Officer N Geetha said, "The HM does not have the authority to take back scholarship amount from students. Once students receive scholarships, the money belongs to them. We would conduct an inquiry with the HM. We will also enquire is there any caste discrimination in the school."
When contacted, district Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare officer C Ramkumar said that there is no government order to recover scholarship amount from students and that an inquiry has been launched into the incident.