|OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT|
|Guwahati, June 11: The Assam government has made education free from this academic session for plus two, degree and polytechnic students whose parents earn Rs 1 lakh or less annually.|
The announcement was made by education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma here this afternoon. Sarma had said at a meeting of college principals here on Wednesday that the government would be taking a decision on waiving/reducing fees for girl/poor students within 48 hours.
The next phase will see similar benefits being extended to university, medical and engineering students, he said. The move suggests that the new government will continue to focus on the student/youth force.
"The government of Assam has decided that provincialised and government colleges in Assam will not take fees, including admission, tuition or any other kind, from students who will take admission in higher secondary or first year of the three-year degree course provided the income of their parents is Rs 1 lakh or below per annum from all sources. They also don't have to pay any fees in the second year," Sarma said.
There are 301 provincialised and government colleges in the state.
To claim the benefit, a student will have to submit his/her parents' income certificate to the principal.
"We have made it very easy for the students to claim the benefit. It would help 50,000 to 70,000 students. If the parents work for the government or the private sector, the monthly salary slip will do. If they are not working for either the public or the private sector, they can get the income certificate from the circle officer or the mouzadar," Sarma said.
Students who have already taken admission will get their money back, he added.
Today's decision is the first step towards implementing the BJP's vision document for students of the state released before the Assembly elections, he said. The decision also covers more students from what was initially planned vis-à-vis girl and poor students.
Dispur had earlier told the principals to make an assessment of the revenue loss before the move can be announced. According to the assessment, the colleges will lose around Rs 70 crore, which the minister said would be compensated within two months.
"After admission is over, the college will give a detailed account of the revenue loss to the director of higher education for reimbursement. The director will then submit the compensation proposal to the government," the minister said. The government has not included private colleges because "imposition could lead to litigation but I am sure they will be able to reduce their fees," Sarma said.