With less than a year to go for Assembly polls in the southern state of Karnataka, the Congress government in the state has decided to provide free education to all girl students from Class 1 to graduation, provided their parents' annual income is less than Rs 10 lakhs.
This scheme will come into effect from the next academic year, and will reportedly be applicable to all public and aided private schools and colleges.
However, the scheme will not cover professional courses.
According to Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddi, the state government expects at least 18 lakh students whose parents' annual income is less that Rs 10 lakhs, to be covered in the scheme.
He told The Times of India that the government plans to set aside Rs 110 crore for the project. The state government hopes to combat the school drop out rate among girl students by introducing the scheme.
The state government will reportedly reimburse all the fee except for examination fee to the girl students. However, at the time of taking admission, the students will have to pay from their own pockets. The state government will later reimburse the amount.
Karnataka on par with other states?
Although the scheme is being lauded as a landmark move by the Karnataka state government, this is not the first time that a state government has announced that it will provide free education to girl students.
In July this year, Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh announced that his government will provide free education to all girl students from nursery to PhD.
This was among a slew of policies that the state government announced, including total farmer loan waiver.
In 2016, Telengana CM K Chandrasekhara Rao announced that the state government will provide free education to girl students from KG to PG level.
Asserting that the Karnataka government plans to empower women through the scheme, Minister Basavaraj Rayareddi said: "It's a model one and a major leap towards women's empowerment. The scheme is for all girls unlike their (other governments) schemes which are restricted to certain classes and income groups."