Rules stand in the way of some medical aspirants

A scheme becomes a bane for a Dalit student

A scheme introduced for the benefit of Dalit students seven years ago has become a bane for M. Divyadarshini, a topper in Class 12 this year. She secured 525/600 in Class 12 and 343 marks in NEET.

Yet, it is unclear if she would qualify for a medical seat under the 7.5% quota for government school students. She is a beneficiary of the Adi-Dravidar welfare scheme, introduced by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to enable bright students get into self-financing schools and study Class 11 and 12.

Quality education

The scheme envisages quality education for 10 Adi Dravidar/Tribal students every year from each district who secured higher marks in Class 10 in government/corporation/municipal/Adi Dravidar and tribal welfare schools.

The students would be selected and admitted in reputed private schools. At that time, there were 32 districts.

To be eligible for the scheme, the parents’ annual income should not exceed ₹1 lakh. Such students would receive ₹28,000 towards boarding and other expenses.

The District Collector would select the beneficiary for the scheme, according to the Citizen’s Charter issued in 2014-15.

K. Murali, the student’s father and employee of a fair price shop in Chennai, said the girl had earlier done her SSLC in the Government High School in Parangipettai in 2018 and scored 456/500.

“Since she got the highest mark in Class 10, the school authorities asked her to join a private school so she could ace plus two,” he said.

“It is not my daughter’s fault since it was not her decision to study in a private school. We had refused the offer then. It was the Education Department that persuaded us. Her chances of getting a seat under the government quota is slim as she migrated to a private school in Kallakurichi district. Why should we suffer and be deprived of a seat?” he asked.

Mr. Murali has petitioned the Collector, seeking the Chief Minister’s intervention.

Other reasons

M. Gnanamsoundharya of Government Higher Secondary School in S.S. Kulam, Coimbatore district, who scored 361 in NEET 2020, also may not benefit from the horizontal reservation. But for other reasons.

She topped the list of government school students who cleared NEET in Coimbatore but as she had studied in a private school for a year she is ineligible.

School headmistress R. Sridevi said the student studied Class 6 at a private school in Annur.

“From Class 7 to 12, she studied only in our school,” she said. Gnanamsoundharya scored 471/600 in Class 12 and cleared NEET in the first attempt.

“I was happy on hearing about the reservation but two days later, the school said that I will not be eligible,” Ms. Gnanamsoundharya told The Hindu on Wednesday, adding that her relatives had advised her to choose other courses. “My goal is only MBBS and to become a gynaecologist,” she said.

Her father met with an accident five years ago and since then he has been unable to work. Her family is planning to meet Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani with an appeal to consider her for medical college admissions.

Chella. Selvakumar, general secretary of Samakalvi Iyakkam, a movement for Dalits, SCs and STs, said soon after the introduction of the scheme, organisations working for the welfare of Dalits had opposed it. “We are trying to get data on how many students have benefited under the Adi Dravidar scheme so far.”

“We are unable to access data as the District Educational Officers want us to send queries by post. We may have to apply for the details only under RTI,” he said.

(With S. Prasad in Cuddalore and R. Akileish in Coimbatore)

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