Kanyashree Yojana For Girls In West Bengal
Though the legal age of any girl to be married has been set as 18, there are many parts of the country which are still practicing “child marriage.” When a girl who is yet to attain the age of 18 years gets married, it is considered as child marriage under the law of the land. This practice is prevalent in the rural parts of Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The practice has been considered illegal and the government has enacted many laws to stop it from happening. Still, in the innermost parts of the villages in West Bengal, the dark shadows of child marriage looms large.
The primary right of a girl is to enjoy her life. If the burden of maintaining a family is forced on her shoulders even before she is ready, it can have adverse effects both on the mental makeup and the physical health of the girl. They have every right to explore the horizons and attain proper education.
Kanyashree Yojana: About the scheme
The Kanyashree Prakalpa was initiated in the state of West Bengal to put a stopper to the practice of child marriage. The scheme was set up by the Social Welfare and the Department of Women Development in the state. The CM of the state, Mamata Banerjee put stress on the implementation of the program. The state government of West Bengal is the main guarantor of the Kanyashree Yojana. The program was set in motion on October 2013.
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Main aim of the Yojana
Apart from providing the young girls with financial help for securing their education, the Kanyashree Yojana will assist in delaying the age of the marriage. The main aim of the scheme is to discourage the practice of getting girls married prior to attaining the mature and legal age of 18 years.
According to the survey reports, around 9 lakh girl children have already been benefited from this scheme. State
Allocation for the Yojana
During the announcement of state budget, the Finance Minister of West Bengal, Amit Mitra mentioned that the state government has allotted a whopping sum of 850 crore towards the project. This money will be used in making the payments to the girls.
Key features of the scheme
If you are wondering what the key elements of the scheme are, then the following points will give you a clear picture of the features of the program:
- The government has guaranteed the payment of a yearly scholarship of Rs 500 to all the girls. This grant will be given to the girls who fall in the age bracket of 13 to 18 years of age. The money will ensure that no obstacles come in the path of their education. Later on the scholarship amount has been increased to Rs. 750.
- If the girls have attained the age of 18 years and are still willing to continue further education in any of the academic institutes, registered under the government, then the state will award them with a onetime cash prize of Rs. 25, 000.
Eligibility for the program
The government department has laid down some of the criteria for being eligible for the scheme. The following are some of the criteria that the girls must fulfill for being registered under the plan:
- The first criterion is that the girls must fall in the age bracket of 13 to 18 years of age. This is done to safeguard the young girls from getting married before attaining the legal age. Thus, the girls will get the chance of perusing higher secondary level of education.
- The girls must be the students. They must be registered in any of the government owned or aided schools. The girls must be studding in VIII/IX/XI/XII class. The girls will have to collect the K1 form from the schools. After filling the form, it must be submitted to the school office.
- To be a part of the scheme, the annual income of the guardians or parents of the girl must be less than Rs. 1, 20,000. If the joint income of the father and the mother is above the specified amount then the girls will not be given the grant.
- If the girl is filling the criteria mentioned above then she will have to fill the K1/K2 form. The forms must be submitted in the office of the educational institute. They will forward it to the respective government department.
- In case, the parents of the girl are dead or the student is suffering from any type of disability then the government will ignore the rule associated with the maximum income of the family.
- Only the girls who are still single will get the opportunity to enroll their names in the scheme. The married girls will not fall under the scheme even if they are still pursuing education from any of the government institutes.
Enrolling for the program
For enrolling in the program, the girl student must collect the K1 and/or the K2 form from the respective government school or education center. After filling the forms in the proper manner, they need to attach some documents like the certificate of age and the official papers proving the current marital status of the student. The official document stating the annual earnings of the parents must also be attached with the K1 and K2 forms. These forms must also be attached with the official certificate, released from the school authority, proving the age and the current status of the girl’s qualification.
All these documents will have to be duly signed by any of the Pradhan of G.P, Gazetted Officer, MP, Counsellor or MLA. For the identification of the girl student, applying for the scheme, the forms must also be accompanied with passport snaps. All these documents must be submitted to the school authority. It is the responsibility of the school to forward the papers to the respective department of state government. Once all the verification have been done, the state government department will send the necessary papers to the school and the students, meeting the criteria, will be awarded with the scholarship.
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Challenges of the scheme
The funds are limited and the number of girls, eligible for enrolment under the program is high. The state government is finding it difficult to provide all the candidates with the yearly scholarship. Then there is the section of students who are supposed to get onetime cash scholarship of 25 thousand rupees. Only a small percentage of the candidates have actually received the reward. Thus, the central as well as the state governments must join hands and work towards making the scheme a success.
Other than this, the government needs to set up a vigilance department that will look into whether the money is being utilized for the right reasons. Many cases have been reported in the rural parts of the state that the money received has been used by the parents to pay the dowry or make a decent house. Cases like these must be prosecuted and steps must be taken to ensure that the sum is spent for the right cause.