January 24, 2019
Kanyashree Scheme earns laurels at home and the world
On the October 1, 2013, the Bangla Government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, launched the Kanyashree Prakalpa. This scheme is a peerless initiative for the girl child. About 55 lakh girls have been brought under this scheme.
The scheme was introduced to arrest the dropout rate in schools and prevent early marriage among girl students. The vision behind this project, and one of the primary reasons behind its success, was its two-pronged aim:
· First, to incentivise women students to stay in school and also complete their education, and
· Second, reducing the heavy incidence of child marriage that adversely affects large sections of the population, within the state, in particular, and across the country in general.
Kanyashree has been recognised, both nationally and internationally, for its considerable contribution to culling school dropout by allowing an annual allowance of Rs 1,000 to female students from the 8th to the 12th grades and a one-time grant of Rs 25,000 to women in order to continue their education or vocational training. The scheme has been extended to university students as well.
The massive budget allocation to the scheme by the State Government denotes its commitment to the cause and the scheme.
· The State has spent nearly Rs 5,000 crore for this scheme, since inception.
· In a way of comparison, the National Budget allocation to a counterpart scheme, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, is close to Rs 600 crore, despite the massive hike in the allocation this fiscal year.
The scheme seeks to structurally empower women instead of merely providing welfare. The grants provided to these women are seen to instil in them the dignity and the independence to follow their dreams. These dreams are propelled by the scheme, not merely funded by it.
While the direct result of this digitised and transparent scheme began to yield tangible results one month into its introduction, the counterparts, all over the country are grappling with systemic problems such as dropouts in higher education, even with rising enrolment among women.
Kanyashree’s holistic approach has resulted in its recognition at major international and national forums.
It was represented as one of the ‘best practices’ at the Girl Summit 2014, organised by Department for International Development, UK and UNICEF in London in July 2014.
It has also received the Manthan Award 2014 for e-governance in the category of ‘Women and Empowerment’ covering South Asia and Asia Pacific region.
At the national level, it won a silver prize in the National Award for e-Governance 2014-15 under the category of ‘Outstanding Performance in Citizen-Centric Service’.
In the June of 2017, this flagship scheme became the reason behind the Bangla Government winning the first prize from the United Nations Public Service Award, coming out on top from a list of 552 welfare projects from 62 countries.
The success of the Kanyashree lies in the freshness of the scheme, the courage of the government flagging it and the restructuring of this model to do things differently from the old and mostly failing models followed by the Centre.