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 National Merit cum Means Scholarship Scheme -  A REVIEW

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National Means cum Merit
Scholarship Scheme: A Review
Submitted to 
Centre for Civil Society
Mugdha Jain
Working Paper No 226
Summer Research Internship 2009
This paper reviews the national means cum merit scholarship scheme with respect to efficiency
in implementation and its effectiveness. Delhi state has been taken as a sample study for the
nationwide  scheme.  Inefficiencies,  delays,  inadequate  performance  were  witnessed  by  the
implementing body in the state, leading to poor success rate in the state. By the end of the
paper, certain reforms have been put forth for greater success of the scheme.
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1.  Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………….3
2.  Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………….……4
3.  Conditional Cash Transfer: Literature and International Experience…………………4
4.  About the scheme……………………………………………………………………………………5
4.1 objective
4.2 scholarship
4.3 quota for states and districts
4.4 examination
4.5 declaration of results
4.6 General eligibility conditions
5.  Role of Stakeholders…………………………………………………………………………….…8
5.1 Ministry of Human Resource and Development
5.2 Directorate of Education, Science Branch
5.3 Government schools
5.4 Students
6.  Problems identified………………………………………………………………………………..10
7.  Recommendations………………………………………………………………………………….14
8.  Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………..17
9.  References……………………………………………………………………………………………18
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‘Universalization of education’ has been a high aimed objective of the Government of
India right since the time of independence. Though inadequate and slow, Government
is taking steps in the right direction in order to make primary and secondary education
available  to  all  the  children  in  the  country.  The  nationwide  ‘Sarva  Shiksha  Abhiyan’
launched by the Government of India was a welcome step with regard to elementary
education. Coupled with such programs, the Government has also offered scholarship
schemes  for  aiding  the  needy  students  so  that  they  are  able  to  complete  their
schooling. National Merit cum Means Scholarship Scheme is one such program which
aims to reduce the drop-out rates from class ninth to twelfth. This nationwide scheme
was announced by the former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the 2007-08 annual
The  scheme  not  only  aims  at helping the students who are  financially  weak  but  also
takes their merit into account. Only the students who are able to prove their mettle in a
specially  conducted  examination  deserve  the  scholarship  for  the  rest  of  the  years  in
school. The scholarship scheme is based on ‘Conditional Cash Transfer’ which implies
that the beneficiaries must fulfill certain conditions in order to avail the scholarship.
Acknowledging the steps taken by the Government to promote the potential talent in
the country which could have been otherwise lying latent due to lack of finances, this
paper   seeks   to   review   this   scheme   with   respect   to   its   concept,   objectives,
implementation, access and the success achieved so far. The state of Delhi is taken as a
sample  in  order  to  analyse  the  implementation  and  success  of  the  scheme.  In  this
regard, the duties and responsibilities of each of the stakeholders are explored with a
direct reference of what remains to be done. In the end, I conclude by analyzing the
success  of  the  scheme  with  respect  to  two  fundamental  aspects:  efficiency  and
effectiveness. And henceforth, certain recommendations are proposed for enabling the
scheme to be a greater success in the coming years.
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The  methodology  involves  the  following  steps  in  chronological  order:  data  collection,
data  interpretation,  identification  of  trends  and  problems,  finding  out  the  possible
solutions. Delhi has been taken as a sample to analyze this nationwide scheme. I have
adopted  a  realist  approach  and  tried  to  keep  the  observations  structured  and
quantifiable.  The  research  approach  is  largely  inductive  and  almost  all  information  is
primary other than the scheme document itself. Further, primary information has been
collected  through  interactions  with  various  stakeholders  and  the  government  officers
involved with the scheme.  
Effective policy making in education requires an understanding of the causal impact of
particular  interventions  on  school  attainments  of  children.  The  fact  that  low-income
households  invest  very  little  on  education  has  an  effect  on  human  capital.  As  a
response,  Conditional  Cash  Transfers  have  been  introduced  by  policymakers  to  give
support to low income households. These programs possess two peculiarities described
in their name. On the one hand, CCT involve direct cash transfers as opposed to in kind
transfers or to subsidies of particular goods. In theory, the “cash transfer” element is
associated with short-run welfare alleviation. The second characteristic is that reception
of  resources  implies  the  commitment  of  the  beneficiary  to  follow  certain  behavior
(school  attendance  by  children,  certain  percentage  of  marks  in  school  examinations
etc.). The objective within this second element is to align incentives in order for poor
households  to  accumulate  human  capital.  Thus,  this  second  element  is  expected  to
enhance welfare in the longer run. 
Conditional  Cash  Transfer  type  schemes  have  shown  to  improve  welfare  and  social
indicators for intended beneficiaries in a number of countries. For instance in Mexico,
OPORTUNIDADES program (formerly Progressa) has shown to have a positive impact
on long-term living standards of households. In terms of OPORTUNIDADES’ impact on
education indicators, the effect on enrollment is estimated to be around 3.5 percentage
points  with  much  higher  effects  of  between  14-15  percentage  points  for  girls
completing  grade  6  (Schultz,  2004;  Behrman,  Sengupta  and  Todd,  2005).  Similar
evidence  is  available  from  other  countries.  For  instance  CCT  type  programs  have
increased enrollments by around 10 percentage points in Ecuador for the program that
targets  children  in  age  group  6-17  (Schady  and  Araujo,  2006)  and  approximately  18
percentage points in Nicaragua (Malucio et al., 2004) for children up to fourth grade of
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primary school. Other studies show some modest increase in enrollments at the primary
level and slightly greater at the lower secondary level of education as a result of CCT
schemes in other Latin American countries.
The  scheme  was  documented  by  the  Ministry  of  Human  Resource  and  Development
(MHRD) to give away 1,00,000 scholarships to students in class 8 th  all over the country.
4.1 Objective
The  objective  of  the  scheme  is  to  reduce  the  drop-out  rates  from  classes  ninth  to
twelfth.  The  scheme  seeks  to  encourage  and  support  the  students  from  the  weaker
sections of the society by giving them financial support so that they are not compelled
to  leave  their  education  due  to  non-availability  of  finances.  The  merit  criterion  is
introduced  so  that  the  talented  and  meritorious  students  are  able  to  get  the
scholarship. The need criterion is fixed with respect to annual income of parents so that
only the most deserving students get the money. 
4.2 Scholarship
The government proposed to give 1 lac scholarships to the meritorious students whose
parental income is not more than 1.5 lacs per annum. The students are given Rs 6000
per year or Rs 500 per month under the scheme which is deposited directly into the
bank account opened in the name of the student. The money is provided on a quarterly
basis  to  the  students  in  class  9 th,   studying  in  government,  local  body  or  government
aided schools for a period of four years from class 9 th  to class 12 th . 
4.3 Quota for states and districts
Each state or Union Territory has a fixed   quota of scholarship which is decided on the
basis of enrollment in class 7 th  and 8 th  and population of the children in the concerned
age  group.  This  quota  is  fixed  by  the  Ministry  of  HRD  for  all  states.  For  fixing  the
scholarship to States/UTs, 2/3rd weightage is given to enrolment of students in classes
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VII  and  VIII  and  1/3rd  weightage  is  given  to  population  of  children  of  relative  age
group for class VII and VIII.  This quota for Delhi was fixed at 1576.
The state governments then set a district wise quota within the state on similar lines.
There is also a quota set for students belonging to different categories. For Delhi there
is 15 percent reservation for the Scheduled castes, 7.5 percent for the Scheduled Tribes
and 3% percent for the physically challenged.
4.4 Examination
The state governments conduct the examination for the scheme. For Delhi, it is done by
the  Directorate  of  Education,  Science  Branch.  This  National  Talent  Search  (NTS)
examination already being conducted in every state is used for this scheme. Only for
the first exam conducted in August 2008 was there a separate exam. The students are
tested on the basis of:
(i) Mental Ability Test (MAT)
(ii) Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
Mental Ability Test consists of 90 multiple-choice questions testing verbal and non-
verbal meta-cognitive abilities like reasoning and critical thinking. The questions in the
test  may  be  on  analogy,  classification,  numerical  series,  pattern  perception,  hidden
figures etc.
Scholastic Aptitude Test consists of 90 multiple-choice questions covering subjects
namely, science, social studies and mathematics as taught in classes VII and VIII.
The examination is conducted on the basis of the guidelines received from the NCERT.
4.5 Declaration of Results
For selecting the students, the following conditions may apply:
(i) The students must pass both the tests i.e. MAT and SAT with at least 40% marks in
each. For the reserved category this cut off is 32% marks.
(ii)  The  parental  income  of  the  students  should  not  be  more  than  Rs.  1.50  lakh  per
annum from all sources.
(iii)  At  the  time  of  selection  for  the  award  of  scholarship  the  candidate  must  have
scored at least 55% marks or equivalent grade in Class VIII examination. There will be
5 % relaxation for SC/ST.
(iv) The awardees should satisfy the eligibilities and the conditions mentioned
in the scheme.
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4.6 General Eligibility Conditions
 An awardee is eligible for the scholarship provided he/she:
1.  takes up studies in approved courses.
2.  maintains good conduct as certified by the Head of the College/Institution and
continues   his/her   studies   as   a   regular   student   in   Government/Local
Body/Government aided school.
3.  does not absent himself/herself without proper leave.
4.  takes up studies on a whole time basis.
5.  does not take up any job.
6.  The students shall have minimum of 55% marks or equivalent grade in Class VII
examination for appearing in selection test for award of scholarship (Relaxable
by 5% for SC/ST).
7.  No claim for scholarship arrears will be entertained after the expiry of 12 months
of  the  academic  session  for  which  one  has  applied  for  the  claim.  In  case  any
awardee    leaves    his/her    course    of    study    within    one    month    of
registration/admission, no scholarship shall be paid to him/her.
8.  In case awardee is not able to appear at the annual examination due to serious
illness,  one  should  send  the  medical  certificate  through  the  Head  of  the
Institution within three months of one’s falling ill. The duration of illness should
be clearly certified by a specialist, who is a Registered Medical Practitioner. The
facility will be available to the awardee to continue the same course in which one
is studying provided the principal or the head of the institution certifies that the
overall performance of the awardee during the year is 50% or above.
9.  The  awardee  must  join  the  next  class/desired  course  within  3  months  of  the
declaration of the result of the previous class/course.
10. Scholarship shall be deemed to be discontinued with any gap of one academic
session in studies at any time due to any reason.
Eligibility and other conditions for starting and continuing of Scholarship at
Secondary and Higher Secondary Stage
1.  The awardees should get clear promotion from class VIII to Class IX for being
eligible for starting the scholarship.
2.  For continuing the scholarship in class X and XII the awardees should get clear
promotion  from  class  IX  to  class  X  and  from  class  XI  to  class  XII  in  the  first
attempt with 55% marks (relaxable by 5% for SC/ST)
3.  The awardees must obtain a minimum of 60 per cent marks in Class X (relaxable
by 5% for SC/ST) examination or equivalent examination for continuation of the
scholarship at higher secondary stage.
4.  In case an institution does not conduct an examination at the end of Class IX
and /or Class XI, the scholarship for the second year will be continued on the
submission of a certificate to this effect from the Head of the Institution.
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5.1 Ministry of Human Resource and Development
The MHRD has formulated the scheme document which was to be implemented from
the year 2008-09. MHRD sets the quota of scholarships for different states based on the
specified conditions and gives the job of implementation of the scheme to the states.
The  Ministry  had  a  budget  of  Rs  750  crores  for  the  scholarship  scheme  which  was
deposited in the State Bank of India. An additional amount of 11 crores was sanctioned
as administrative expenses out of which 9 crores was again deposited in the bank to be
disbursed in scholarships. MHRD also gives Rs 50 per child to each district (on demand
from the State Government), upto the limit of 1500 students per district to cover the
administrative expenses. The ministry has given the responsibility to the State Bank of
India to transfer the amount directly into the account of the student after receiving the
list from the state governments.
5.2 Directorate of Education, Science Branch
The  Directorate  of  Education,  Science  Branch  is  responsible  for  implementing  the
scheme  within  the  state.  They  are  responsible  for  inviting  applications,  conducting
examinations and declaration of results. The directorate advertises about the scheme
through the newspaper and through circulars put on the website. The proforma which
the schools are required to fill in is also put along with the circular. The Science Branch,
after receiving the list of students from the schools issues them admission cards with
the roll numbers for the examination. The date and the centre of examination are fixed.
The results are declared by the Branch within four months after the conduct of exams.
The  job  of  preparing  the  results  has  been  outsourced  by  the  Branch  to  a  specialized
Government agency. After the declaration of results, the list of successful students is
sent to the schools and the schools at this stage are supposed to resend the list with
the  bank  account  details  of  every  student.  After  receiving  the  final  lists  from  all  the
schools, it is sent to the SBI nodal officer and the SBI then transfers money to the bank
accounts of the students.
The  first  exam  for  the  year  2008-09  was  conducted  on  17 th   August  2008  at  43
examination centers in the state. The results for the same were declared in December
2008. The final list with the bank account numbers was sent to the SBI in April 2009
and the money was received by the students by the end of June 2009.
The second exam for 2009-10 was conducted in November 2008 and the exam for the
NTS was used for this scheme as well. The result for this exam was declared on 18 th 
June 2009.
5.3 Schools
Only government, local body or government aided schools are allowed to participate in
the scheme. The schools have a multiple responsibility. The schools after receiving the
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circulars from the website or the newspaper are required to prepare a list of students
from their schools who wish to apply. The verification of conditions like 55% marks in
the annual exams of class 7 th , parental income being not more than 1.5 lacs per annum
is done by the schools. The proforma required to be filled by the schools is duly signed
by  the  Principal  of  the  school,  to  guarantee  that  her  students  satisfy  the  required
eligibility conditions. The application forms (which are also the admit cards) are once
again required to be filled by the school.
After the result is declared, the schools have to collect the bank account details of the
student. The bank account should be in the name of the student. In some cases the
schools  help  the  students  to  open  a  zero  balance  account  with  the  principal’s
guarantee. The details of the bank account number, bank address is sent to the Science
Branch. The responsibilities of the school end here.
5.4 Students
The beneficiaries of the scholarships are the students of class 9 th  to class 12 th  who have
to  apply  for  the  scheme  from  the  school.  The  students  should  satisfy  the  general
eligibility  conditions  necessary  for  a  valid  application.  They  are  supposed  to  give  a
separate exam (or the first stage NTS exam) which is conducted by the DOE science
Branch according to the guidelines received from the NCERT. After the declaration of
results, the students are supposed to open a joint account with their parents for the
money to be transferred into the account.
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1.Low pass percentage
The  number  of  students  passing  the  examination  is  very  less.  Out  of  the  12000
students who had given the exam in August 2008, only 629 students were able to pass.
This  number  decreased  further  to  215  in  the  second  exam  in  November  2008.  A
number of reasons can be thought of for this low success rate.
1.  The  quality  of  education  in  Government  schools  is  not  upto  the  mark  and  the
students are not competent enough.
2.  The examination is very difficult for the students. This could be a major reason
as the same exam for NTS is used for NMMS too. The NTS exam is a first stage
exam for the nationwide NTSE scholarship and hence it has high standards with
regard  to  the  examination  paper.  According  to  an  officer  in  the  DOE,  Science
Branch,  there  is  no  difference  in  the  pass  percentage  of  students  from
government schools in NTS exam and the students passing the NMMS.
3.  Another  reason  found  was  that  the  students  have  not  taken  the  exam  very
seriously. This could be due to lack of awareness about the kind of exam or the
scholarship. According to a well known government school teacher, the students
in her school were not given any sample paper to know the pattern of questions.
This statement was confirmed by two more schools in the district. Though, the
DOE claims to have given the guidelines as well as the sample paper with the
admit cards to all the students.
4.  The huge difference in the results of the first and second exam was also due to
coaching  classes  provided  by  the  schools  formerly,  on  the  instructions  of  the
DOE. These classes were basically for the NTS exam which helped the students
to pass in the first exam. But these classes were later terminated, and hence the
poor result in the second exam.
The  low  pass  percentage  of  students  poses  a  larger  question  on  the  quality  of
education in Government schools and the relevance of school examinations. It was
admitted  by  the  officers  in  the  Directorate  of  Education  that  because  of  higher
standards of education in public schools, they were able to corner all the places in
the National Talent Search Examination and hence NMMS was specifically designed
only for the government schools, to help the actual needy and meritorious students.
But  even  in  this  exam,  only  about  40%  scholarships  were  given  out  because  the
students  were  unable  to  pass.  This  percentage  dropped  to  13.6%  in  the  second
exam. This poses a serious question that the students who are claimed to get 80-
90% marks in the 10 th  board examinations in the Government schools are not able
to get even 40% marks to pass the scholarship test.    The       sample       paper
obtained from the DOE shows that the paper which consists of 90 multiple choice
questions each of MAT and SAT and minimum of 72 have to be answered in all to
pass the examination.
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2. Lack of Awareness
A major problem witnessed among the students was lack of awareness. Even the
students who have passed the examination do not know exactly how they are going
to receive the money. They have opened the bank account, but they do not know 
the  purpose.  The  students  do  not  know  the  details  of  the  scheme,  the  minimum
percentage  of  marks  they  would  have  to  get  in  class  9 th   in  order  to  avail  the
scholarship next year. Some of the students were not aware about the kind of exam
before  appearing  for  it.  The  Directorate  claims  to  have  given  an  information
brochure with the sample paper to every applicant. But the response collected from
the  students  reveals  that  no  such  information  was  provided.  Now,  whether  it  is
because  of  carelessness  of  the  Directorate  or  the  schools  is  unknown.  Also,  since
very few schools and students had applied for the scheme, it can be attributed to
inadequate  publicity  and  awareness  about  the  scheme.  Most  of  the  teachers  in
government  schools  are  not  even  aware  of  such  kind  of  a  scheme  existing.
Consequently there is lack of motivation with the students to work.
According to the figures revealed by an officer in the DOE, Science Branch, out of
the 35lacs sanctioned by the Delhi Government for this scheme, 1.5lacs was spent
on information and publicity. But the kind of publicity done by the department which
is  only  through  the  newspaper  and  the  public  circular  on  the  department  website
doesn’t reflect that the money was well spent. No amount was spent on television
advertisement or involving NGOs or voluntary groups in creating awareness.
3. Delay in processes
There  is  a  delay  at  every  step  in  the  work  done  by  the  DOE,  Science  Branch.
Declaration of results takes more than six months and the actual transfer of money
takes  place  almost  a  year  after  the  exam.  The  results  for  the  August  exam  were
declared in December 2008 and those for November were declared in June 2009.
The Science Branch puts the blame on the resource centers of the DOE for the delay
in data availability, to set the district wise quota. Not only the results, the final list
with the bank account numbers of the students, was sent to the Bank only in May
2009 and hence the delay in the transfer of money. According to an officer in the
Ministry, the states are given timelines for each of the things but they do not adhere
to them.
Since  the  result  of  the  November  exam  was  announced  in  June  2009,  and  the
student moved up in class 9 in April, he might drop out after class 8, unaware of the
fact  that  he  might  have  qualified  for  the  scholarship.  Hence,  this  delay  in  the
process might defeat the entire purpose of the scholarship which is to reduce the
drop-out rates. Questioning this fact from the officer in the Directorate, he refuses
to believe that this might be a possibility, as a student who has been performing so
well  in  studies  will  never  choose  to  drop-out!   This  response  is  not  tenable  as  the
student  may  not  “choose”  to  drop  out,  but  may  be  forced  by  circumstances
(financial or otherwise) to abandon studies. And this fact is one of the reasons for
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introducing this scheme. The officer also justifies that because this was the first year
of  the  scholarship,  hence  a  few  problems  and  delays  in  the  processes,  but  well
assures the fact that next year, results of NMMS would be declared along with NTS
results by the month of March. Also, there have been talks to introduce the OMR
sheets for answers which will speed up the process of computing of results.
      4.Students grievances
The  students  can  only  apply  through  the  schools.  According  to  an  officer  in  the
Science  Branch,  students  can  directly  come  to  the  branch  to  take  the  application
form  which  is  then  verified  and  signed  by  the  principal.  But  according  to  the
information  brochure  circulated  by  the  branch,  the  DOE  does  not  entertain  any
individual applications other than the ones sent by the schools. 
Another problem witnessed was that the students who did not receive the money
even six months after the declaration of results did not know whom to contact. They
cannot  personally  correspond  with  the  DOE  or  the  nodal  officer  of  the  bank  to
question the delay. The schools are also not interested, or sometimes they do not
have the time in knowing the status of money transfer. Also, there is no time frame
given  to  the  student  or  to  the  school  when  the  money  will  be  credited  into  the
student’s account.
5.  Bank Account
There was a problem in furnishing the bank account details as the students did not
have  a  bank  account.  There  was  a  problem  in  opening  the  same  because  of
problems  of  guarantee,  residence  proof  etc.  Not  all  schools  were  cooperative
enough to open the student’s account.
      In some cases the account number submitted was found to be in somebody else’s
Also, because of clerical errors, there were problems in accessing the account.
The problems in opening the bank accounts has already been resolved to a great
extent since from this year, it has been made compulsory for all the schools to open
the bank accounts of all the students in the beginning of the year.
6.  No monitoring and impact assessment
There  is  no  monitoring  done  by  the  DOE  to  check  how  the  student  has  been
performing  after  receiving  the  scholarship.  The  scheme  document  says  that  the
student will not receive the scholarship if he leaves the school after a month. But
there is no machinery in place by the DOE to monitor this. The attendance as well
as the academic performance of the students is not monitored.
There is also no impact assessment done by the DOE or by the MHRD to assess the
success of the scheme through its potential impact on the drop-out rates, greater
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enrollment,  better  annual  results.  In  the  absence  of  any  impact  assessment,  it  is
difficult to devise mechanisms to improvise the scheme.
7.  Computerization of records
The  DOE,  Science  Branch  is  highly  understaffed  and  underequipped.  For  this
particular exam of NTS and NMMS, only five people are working in the Branch. The
Nodal officer of the Delhi state was transferred in February 2009 and his place has
been lying vacant since then. The interesting part is that the Ministry is unaware of
this. Within the branch, there are more than 60 posts which are lying vacant. All the
records are not computerized. The Branch does not have its own website and hence
a  lot  of  things  which  should  be  public  are  not  there.  It  uses  the  website  of
Directorate of Education to put the public circulars and the results for the scheme. 
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1.  Examinations
The NTS examination used for NMMS is considered too tough for a scheme whose
prime objective is not ‘talent search’. And this is one of the reasons cited for low
success rate of the students. Hence, a reform in the examination system is required.
These could be:
1.  Conducting  a  separate  exam  especially  for  the  NMMS.  This  exam  would  be
relatively simpler than the present one. In evidence to this, the first exam for
NMMS,  conducted  in  Aug  2008  was  not  the  same  as  NTS  and  hence  the
number of successful students was greater in the first exam as compared to
the second.
2.  Decreasing  the  percentage  of  passing  marks.  This  idea  may  be  considered
not too desirable as the passing marks are currently only 40% (and 32% for
the  reserved  category)  but  given  the  difficulties  in  conducting  an  exam
separately, it may be a good idea.
3.  In order to make sure that the entire quota of scholarships meant for Delhi is
exhausted, students should be selected on the basis of merit without taking
into  consideration  the  qualifying  marks.  This  will  ensure  that  at  least  the
needy would get the money.
4.  If  no  change  can  be  brought  about  in  the  examination  system,  make
provisions for special coaching/training for the exam. This was done earlier
for the NTS exams but was terminated last year because “a number of other
classes like ‘pehel’ and summer camps in schools” were started. It must be
realized that exams like MATs cannot be attempted without any guidance or
2.  Information and Publicity
In conversation with the officer incharge in the MHRD, it was found that some of the
smaller states like Goa, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have been able to realize
their  full  quota  of  scholarships.  And  this  has  been  made  possible  because  of
increased  awareness  among  the  students,  parents  and  schools.  The  scheme  has
been well publicized by the print media, television and websites.
Hence, it is required that greater emphasis is laid on spreading information about
the  scheme.  Greater  publicity  should  be  done  by  involving  the  television  media.
Posters/information  brochures  must  be  put  up  in  every  government  school  for
information  of  the  students  and  teachers.  Officers  from  the  Science  Branch  or
people from the NGOs could go to the schools to spread awareness and motivating
students for such kind of exams.
Centre For Civil Society  Page 15   
Not  only  publicity,  but  the  students  should  be  well  informed  about  the  kind  of
examination  by  way  of  sample  papers  or  mock  questions.  Although  the  DOE,
Science Branch seems to be doing this, but many of the students still do not know
about this. There needs to be greater coordination between the Science Branch and
the schools in this regard.
Students should also be informed and educated about the process of managing their
bank  accounts.  In  conversation  with  the  beneficiaries  of  the  scholarship,  it  was
found that the students do not even know of the basic operations in a bank, how to
check their account balance, how to deposit money. Such kind of information should
be given to every account holder especially for the students whose parents haven’t
operated  a  bank  account.  This  can  be  provided  by  way  of  special  workshops  for
students and parents by the schools or by the Directorate.
3.  Grievance Redressal
In the Directorate of Education, Science Branch, there must be a person responsible
for entertaining the grievances of the students, parents and schools. The students
must  be  given  his  contact  number  in  case  of  any  problems  with  the  information,
examination,  results,  delays  in  money  transfer  and  the  like.  This  person  in
coordination with the Ministry and the Bank will redress the student’s grievances by
contacting  the  concerned  person.  There  could  also  be  online  feedback/complaints
form  and  online  doubts  resolving  system  for  convenience  of  the  students  and
schools.  Through  this,  suggestions  can  be  invited  from  schools  for  better
implementation of the scheme.
In addition, it would be a good idea to give a confirmation letter to the students who
have  passed  the  examination,  which  will  also  be  an  instruction  to  the  beneficiary
and the bank to open the account of the student. This government letter will also
serve as a guarantee in the hands of the beneficiary that he is entitled to get this
amount from the government
4.  Strengthening the Directorate of Education, Science Branch
As witnessed during the course of study and in conversation with the officers in the
Science Branch it was found that there was a need to strengthen the Science branch
and  make  it  more  responsible.  Greater  emphasis  must  be  laid  on  increasing  the
qualified manpower and computerization of records. Hardly any staff in the Science
Branch is capable of working on a computer. The Branch needs to be given greater
responsibility  as  far  the  implementation  of  the  scheme  is  concerned  and  must  be
also held responsible in case of any delays/lapses/problems. Right now, it functions
as  a  body  only  responsible  for  conducting  the  examinations  and  nothing  more.  It
doesn’t care to ensure that the money is delivered to the students or to find out the
reasons for the delay. The Branch does  not have a website of its own where the
Centre For Civil Society  Page 16   
details  of  their  organization,  responsibilities,  workings,  budgets,  expenditures,  etc
can be seen. Hence the working is mostly non-transparent.
If  the  Science  Branch  is  incapable  of  taking  this  responsibility,  creation  of  an
independent body is highly recommended which will be completely responsible for
the implementation of the scheme in the state. The body must be transparent in its
procedures  and  must  be  held  responsible  for  any  delays  or  problems  in  the
implementation  at  any  stage.  The  body  should  also  be  given  responsibility  to
monitor and review the attendance and academic record of the beneficiary in order
to assess the motivation provided by the scheme, at least in the initial years.
5.  Fixing the timelines
It  is  a  must  that  the  Ministry  gives  fixed  dates  to  the  state  for  the  issue  of
application  forms,  conducting  examination,  declaration  of  results  and  transfer  of
money. All the dates except for the one decided for the transfer of money can be
fixed by the implementing body also. But all these dates must be made public before
commencement of the scheme for that academic year. These timelines will increase
accountability  of  the  DOE,  Science  Branch  and  also  the  SBI  to  the  students  and
schools  who  can  now  complain/question  any  delay  beyond  the  fixed  date  to  the
grievance redresser. These timelines will also enable the Ministry to warn/penalize
the state against non-efficiency in service delivery. The implementing agencies must
be strictly advised to adhere to the timelines.
6.  Incentivizing successful states and schools
The ministry is advised to incentivize good performing states by way of rewards to
the  states  where  the  entire  quota  of  scholarship  is  realized  and  which  have  been
able to adhere to the timelines. This system will encourage implementing bodies in
the state to work more efficiently and diligently.
The same thing can be done by the DOE for the government schools in the state.
The  school  from  which  the  maximum  numbers  of  students  are  able  to  qualify
signifies  better  educational  quality  of  the school  and  greater  efficiency  in  carrying
out  their  duties.  Hence,  schools  like  these  must  be  rewarded  by  the  State
7.  Impact assessment
Any policy or scheme is successful only if it achieves the desired objectives. In the
absence of any impact assessment of the schemes, it is hard to identify how far the
scheme  has  been  successful  in  realizing  its  multiple  goals.  Hence  it  is  highly
recommendable  that  there  must  be  a  provision  for  assessing  the  impact  of  the
scheme,  for  example,  the  change  in  the  drop-out  rates,  and  the  change  in  the
Centre For Civil Society  Page 17   
success  rate  in  the  home  examinations  will  be  good  indicators  of  motivation
provided by the scheme. The impact assessment must be done every year in order
to continuously improvise the scheme.
Centre For Civil Society  Page 18   
It will be not wrong say that the scheme is an excellent one and has great potential
to reduce the drop-out rates at the secondary level, but only if it is implemented in a
more professional way. First and the foremost is to identify the baseline scenario,
the  problems  with  the  existing  implementation  mechanism,  and  most  importantly
quality of school education. Serious reforms are needed in both in order to realize
the desired outcomes. The latter is a bigger question which is not only relevant for
this scheme, but is the requirement of education system as a whole. In this regard,
an impact assessment of each of such schemes is highly recommended. For better
functioning of the system, fixing up of timelines is most important and states must
be strictly advised to stick to those. In addition, reforms in the examination system
is a must, in order to achieve the desired targets. The study has also brought to the
forefront,  the  inadequacy  in  performance  of  the  implementing  body  that  is  the
Directorate of Education, Science Branch to take this specific case. The Ministry and
the Directorate can shy away by saying that this is “just a beginning, the first year
of the scheme”. But it should be realized that things will not improve even next year
if  no  changes  are  brought  in  the  system.  The  review  of  the  scheme  which  is
supposed  to  happen  in  2010  must  take  into  mind  the  aforesaid  recommendations
and devise mechanisms to ensure a better service delivery. The two critical criteria
on which the scheme was reviewed in this paper (as mentioned in the beginning)
were efficiency and effectiveness. For the first, it can be concluded that there is still
long way to go for efficient system to be in place, given the kind of work done by
the DOE, and the schools. For the latter, nothing much can be deciphered as the
beneficiaries  have  got  the  money  only  in June 2009 and it need time to evaluate
their performance and behavioral changes. Although as it has been said again and
again the very low pass percentage of the students is a matter of concerns which
questions the education system in the State and if not taken care of, will reduce all
chances for the success of this scheme. 
Centre For Civil Society  Page 19   
Fasih, Tazeen. "Impact Evaluation of a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme in Yemen." 2008.
Fernando Reimers, Carol DeShano da Silva and Ernesto Trevino. WHERE IS THE “EDUCATION”
MHRD. "National Merit Cum Means Scholarship Scheme." New Delhi, 2008-09.
newsrediff. "Means-cum-merit scholarship far behind target." May 25, 2009.
Interview from Mr.Malhotra, officer incharge, DOE, Science Branch, July 3, 2009
Interview from Mr. R.A. Singh, museum incharge, DOE, Science Branch, July 1, 2009
Interview from Mr. Ishwar Singh, Dy Secretary, MHRD, July 7, 2009
Interviews from Government school teachers and students 

CD Name :

 National Merit cum Means Scholarship Scheme -  A REVIEW

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