Thousands of schoolchildren were left high and dry last year as they did not receive their scholarship amount due to bank accounts not being seeded with Aadhaar. And the same might happen this year too as the process is yet to be completed.
Since September last, all student scholarships have been routed through the Aadhaar-based State Scholarship Portal (SSP), which was put in place to streamline the financial aid given to schoolchildren through a single-window, paperless application system.
This is part of Karnataka’s policy to make beneficiary payments only to Aadhaar-seeded bank accounts under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
A total of 4.5 lakh schoolchildren did not receive pre-matric scholarship last year, as their bank accounts were not seeded with Aadhaar. Following some seeding progress, the number now stands at 2.67 lakh, with more than half of them being from the north Karnataka districts.
But the e-Governance department, which anchors the scholarship portal, has more or less thrown its hands up on the seeding process.
“If the system can work for 42 lakh children, why not for the rest? We have the list of those students and we know which school they are in. But ultimately, if their bank accounts aren’t seeded with Aadhaar, they won’t get the scholarship,” Additional Chief Secretary (e-Governance) Rajeev Chawla said.
The SSP is linked to the education department’s Student Achievement Tracking System (SATS) and contains information on 1.20 crore schoolchildren.
The SSP uses this unique ID to fetch details of students for pre-matric scholarships – academics, caste, income details and so on.
The e-Governance department is now making a case for revisiting the SATS database.
“I’m sure some of the students aren’t there in the (SATS) system at all. Their bank accounts can’t be seeded because they don’t exist,” a senior official said.
A senior official from the education department said the existence of ‘phantom’ kids in the SATS database was unlikely. “At present, duplication in the SATS database is removed by checking the first name, middle name, last name and the date of birth separately. But complete sanitization can happen only when SATS is linked with Aadhaar. We can’t do that because we can’t deny school admission for lack of Aadhaar,” he said.