While education is considered to be one of the imperative solutions to many of our problems, the gift of education is one of the noblest and thoughtful gifts that any child can get. As we focus on achieving 100 per cent literacy throughout the nation, quality education sometimes is left behind. One needs to understand that there’s a thin line which makes a big difference between being literate and educated. Among many of the feathers on her cap that Sikkim wears, an educational scholarship for the underprivileged children shines like a golden feather.
“The education scholarship has changed my life and made me more confident about my future and it has encouraged me to do something for my state and my country as a whole”, expresses a CMMSS student.
Conceptualised by the former Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister’s Meritorious Scholarship Scheme (CMMSS) is a unique scheme of the Sikkim Government under the Human Resource Development Department (HRDD), which started in the year 2010. Almost 3000 students have applied for the said scholarship until 2019, out of which only 937 have been selected.
CMMSS has been applauded nationwide because of its successful implementation and result. Lauded as one among the many innovative schemes of the state government, this educational scheme has been able to benefit the economically underprivileged children.
Aims & objectives of CMMSS
The Sikkim Government in the year 2010 launched the CMMSS with an aim to provide free and quality education to the deserving children belonging to the economically weak and underprivileged background. The scholarship provides an opportunity for these students to study in some of the most reputed schools within Sikkim and other states.
Criteria & selection
Only the local students between the age group of 11-121/2 years of age, who have strictly studied in Government School from class one to five are eligible for the scholarship. The parents must possess Sikkim Subject Certificate or Certificate of Identification.
As per the criteria students who have stood in the first position in the annual examination of class V are automatically nominated or selected for the selection test of the CMMSS which are held at a state level. The class topper of class V in every government school in the state is nominated by the Head Master, Principal or the Head of the Institute for the said selection test. In rare of the cases, if the student who stood first in the annual examination doesn’t meet the criteria, then the next student after him or her shall be eligible. The nominated student from the school must appear for the selection test conducted by the Examination Cell of the HR&DD, GoS.
The Selection Test is conducted every January where students from all districts appear. They need to sit for the selection text comprising of subjects like English, Mathematics, Environmental Science and General Knowledge. The selection test was earlier conducted at the district level but since 2016, it is conducted at the state level at Gangtok.
For the said scholarship scheme, the state HR&DD has empanelled with some reputed public schools from within the state and outside.
Initially, a total of 50 students get selected every year, out of which, 10 students get admitted in the reputed public schools outside the state, while the rest 40 will get admission in reputed public schools within the state.
There are a total of 12 empanelled schools for the CMMSS, that include 6 schools within the state and outside the state.
Selections so far
Initially, only 50 students were selected for the said scholarship. Later the numbers were increased by 200 during the years between 2010 to 2018. The department, however, aims to confine the number of students to 50 each year.
As per the data and information provided by the HR&DD, GoS, a total of 937 students have benefited. The numbers exclude the students whose selection result is not yet declared.
Students are selected from various Government Primary Schools (PS), Junior High Schools (JHS), Government Secondary Schools (GSS) and Government Senior Secondary Schools (GSSS) across the state.
As per the data, a total of 744 students are studying in various empanelled schools within the state of Sikkim and a total of 193 students are studying outside the state.
What after completing Class XII?
Students from the first batch of CMMSS who have completed their Class XII in the year 2017, has opted various courses in various colleges within the state and outside. Many of them have been successful in getting admissions in various reputed colleges under Delhi University (DU).
Till now a total of 295 students have been successful in getting admission in various college throughout the country and are studying subjects of their choices.
Through the years, the CMMSS which was provided to the students till class XII has now been extended up to graduation. This was done in 2017 with a view to providing consistent financial support to the students selected under the CMMSS to enable them to continue with their higher studies till the college level.
As per the information provided by the HR&DD, the state government is spending almost 15 to 18 crores every year on students under the CMMSS. The state government has already spent 77.77 crores till 2018 over the said scheme.
Under the CMMSS, a student is entitled to free and quality education in reputed some prestigious public schools in the country. They receive free textbooks, uniforms and hostel facility. The scheme also the grants expenses for to and fro journey from the place of residence to school in which they are admitted.
Number of qualified students (till 2018)
A total of 50 students are selected each year and seats are reserved for different communities of the state as per the existing system of the government i.e. 15% for Bhutia, 20% for Lepcha, 5% for Primitive Tribe, 40% for Other Backward Classes (state central), 13 % for Scheduled Tribe and 7% for Scheduled Caste.
District-wise record As per the record, till the year 2017, the highest number of students have been selected from West Sikkim with 263 in number, which makes 29.65% of the total students. East Sikkim is at the second position with 243 students (27.39%), South Sikkim stands at third position with 236 students (26.06%) and North Sikkim is fourth with 145 students (16.34%).
Despite state government’s efforts, many parents and students under belonging to the economically weaker section aren’t much aware of the scheme. It has also been noticed that many have dropped out of the schools further making themselves ineligible to continue education under the scholarship. As per the data provided, more than 30 students have dropped out until 2017 due to various personal reasons as cited by them.
Albert Gurung, who studied at Pinegrove School, Himachal Pradesh, was selected for Round Square International Conference 2018 at Canada conference to represent his school and the country.
“It was weeklong of multinational and multicultural experience in which delegates from different countries, cultures and perspectives came together to share, learn to understand and be inspired to make a positive difference in the world and to begin to create a route map to the world we wish to see”, shares Albert, a beneficiary of CMMSS.
“The Round Square International Conference escalated my appreciation of diversity to entirely new levels, as I have made friends for life from all over the world, and I learnt about the history and rich culture of Canada”, he tells and adds, “my journey is none less than a dream coming true. From studying at a school in a remote village of Sikkim getting an opportunity to learn at one of India’s topmost educational institutions; it’s a great point and a wonderful experience!”
Albert has thanked the state government and the HRDD for this noble scheme which has shaped the lives of many such underprivileged students like him.
It may be mentioned that Albert was also awarded the prestigious King Constantine Medal for Social Service, 2019, by Round Square International.
Another beneficiary, Zigmee Gurung is studying B.Com at Ramjas College, under Delhi University. He has been elected as the Joint Secretary of the Students’ Council. The College has more than 6,000 students.
Namkit Lepcha is studying Genetic Engineering at ITM University, Gwalior while Tika Ram Sharma is studying B.Sc. Forensic Science.
Likewise, two students under CMMSS, Asish Tiwari and Mahendra Chettri are receiving an additional scholarship of rupees one lakh per annum on their individual capacity, from the school they were previously studying. They are granted the scholarship on the basis of their individual performance in academics, while they were in school. They will continue receiving the scholarship until they complete their higher studies.
Apart from these, every year, many CMMSS students have been able to top their schools during the board examinations.
For parents who wish to deliver the best of education to their children, but cannot afford, CMMSS has proved to be a boon.
“It was beyond our thoughts and imagination to get our son admitted in such a reputed school of the country. I, being a farmer, never thought of getting my children to study outside the state, that too in such a premier institution,” expresses Chandra Bahadur Gurung, father of Albert.
He expresses his gratitude towards the previous state government under whose tenure the scheme was launched and remains positive that the present government will continue with this noble initiative.
Chandra Bahadur, a farmer by profession is a resident of Posakey Busty at Chujachen, East Sikkim.
“The CMMSS is a very unique scheme of its kind, not only in the state but the entire country. This scheme has helped a lot of BPL students to get an opportunity to get good and quality education and to fulfil the dreams of their family and themselves”, says GP Upadhyaya (IAS), Principal Secretary HRDD.
“This is a great scholarship scheme, wherein out students are getting the best of the best opportunity to study in such premiere public schools of the country”, adds Sabita Pradhan, Joint Director (Scholarship), HRDD. She is confident that these students of CMMSS will surely contribute back to the society they belong to and the state and country at large.
Expressing her disappointment over the dropouts, Pradhan says, “there is a serious need of bringing awareness and sensitize the students and parents as well in regard to the importance and significance of CMMSS.”
Ugen Doma Dhondup, HA, HRDD, tells, “since 2010, I have been escorting the students selected under the CMMSS to the respective schools where they had to get the admission. I have witnessed a lot of changes and overall development in them. From a shy kid, they turn into confident individuals. CMMSS has really given them a lot.”
It may be mentioned that Ugen Doma along with many others from the department escorts students and parents to get the admission in the schools they are allocated outside the state.