Assam makes bank accounts mandatory for students up to Class 12 in govt schools

GUWAHATI: Bank accounts will now be mandatory for all children up to Class XII studying in government or provincialized educational institutions in Assam.

Ahead of the 2021 assembly polls, the Assam government is going ahead with the policy of giving a direct benefit transfer (DBT) to students from Class 1-12. The Axom Sarba Siksha Abhiyan Mission office has asked all district education authorities to initiate the process immediately.

“Bank account is to be opened for students from Class-I to XII of all categories of schools, including students of Special Training Centres, residential schools, KGBVs, model schools etc. It will be a massive exercise for the state. The whole exercise is to be completed by November 30, 2020,” read a latest letter sent from mission director of Samagraa Siksha, Assam, B Kalyan Chakravarthy.

For all students, the bank accounts will be opened with zero balance. For students below 10 years, it will be joint accounts operated by guardians. However, those above 10 can operate their accounts on their own.

Inspectors of schools and district elementary education officers, along with the district mission coordinator and district project coordinators of all districts of the state, have been directed to initiate necessary action.

Sources in the state education department told TOI that the state government might come up with some announcements to provide financial benefits to students. However, the present modality says the decision is aimed at inculcating the habit of savings among school children from a tender age.

“Training of children on management of financial skills and inculcate good financial habits on savings can make a great impact on their financial future.This habit can be created through opening of bank accounts and it may be a great tool for managing their personal finances in their future. In view of the importance of having a bank account number by each child, it has been planned to open bank account for all children of elementary and secondary schools (except private schools),” the modality for opening bank accounts stated.

A source from the education department said the policy of bank account for each and every school children will help in preventing government benefits to “ghost students” which has been a major concern as far as pilferage in allotments, including that of mid-day meal, is concerned. Over three lakh “ghost children” have been identified by the state education department in government-run schools of Assam during the 2018-19 academic session.

Early this year, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was informed in a meeting by the education department officials that more than 3.12 lakh “ghost students” in the state have been identified who were registered during the regime of the previous state government regime. From now, only certification of the concerned head teacher or principal of the school is to be considered as a document for opening bank accounts. “Aadhaar number will be linked with the bank account of students as soon as Aadhaar is generated,” read the letter.

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