Haryana’s Cheerag scheme for EWS students

Cheerag Scheme: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s government recently launched the “Chief Minister Equal Education Relief, Assistance and Grant (Cheerag)” scheme.

Key Points:

  • Cheerag scheme was introduced in place of a similar scheme launched by Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s government in 2007 under Rule 134 A of the Haryana School Education Rules, 2003.
  • Under the scheme,
  • The government will provide free education to Economically Weaker section (EWS) students of Government schools in private school.
  • Students of government school can enroll in private school in class 2nd to 12th. However, for this, annual verified income of parents shall be less than Rs 1.8 lakh.
  • Haryana government will reimburse:
  • Rs 700 per student in Classes 2nd to 5th
  • Rs 900 per student in Classes 6th to 8th
  • Rs 1,100 per student in Classes 9th to 12th

Response to the Cheerag scheme:

  • Around 533 budget private schools that are mostly in villages and small towns, had applied to offer seats to EWS students under the Cheerag scheme.
  • However, only 381 schools were found to be eligible because of different technical reasons.
  • These 381 private schools offered 24,987 seats for EWS students from government schools.
  • But, only 1,665 students have preferred to opt for the scheme, which is just 6.66 per cent of the total offered seats.
  • The reason being that those schools are not nearby and several facilities are available at government schools only. Also, good private schools have not came forward to participate.

Concerns and controversy around the Haryana govt's initiative:

  • Senior politicians and teachers’ bodies in Haryana have raised questions on the government’s Cheerag scheme.
  • The union leaders have apprehensions that the scheme may be aimed at encouraging private schools at the cost of government schools.
  • Wazir Singh, a former union president, stated that "Instead of providing free education in private schools, the government should improve the facilities in government schools and fill the open teaching positions.
  • According to the statistics, there are approximately 85,000 teachers working in government schools, including guest teachers, and there are approximately 50,000 open positions.
  • It is felt that if the government continues to reimburse private schools in lieu of admission of government school students, one day, the government schools will turn empty.
  • It has been claimed that 90% of the students of government schools fall under the Cheerag scheme which is meant for those with parents who have an annual income of Rs 1.8 lakh.

About Haryana:

  • Haryana is a North Indian state surrounding New Delhi on 3 sides.
  • It is one of the 28 states in India, located in the northern part of the country.
  • It was carved out of the former state of East Punjab on 1 November 1966 on a linguistic basis.
  • It is bordered by Himachal Pradesh to the north-east, by river Yamuna along its eastern border with Uttar Pradesh, by Rajasthan to the west and south, and Ghaggar-Hakra River flows along its northern border with Punjab.
  • Since Haryana surrounds the country's capital Delhi on three sides (north, west and south), consequently a large area of Haryana is included in the economically-important National Capital Region for the purposes of planning and development.
  • The capital of Haryana is Chandigarh.
  • The current Chief Minister and Governor of Haryana are Manohar Lal Khattar and Bandaru Dattatraya respectively.