Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Can 'Inspire' inspire students to take up science?

School science toppers from across the country — get ready for a special invitation to take up science in higher education and as a career. The Centre is tying up with over 30 central and state boards across India, to send a special letter to students who emerge toppers in the science stream in Class XII examinations this May and June. These include the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

Under the plan, the letter will specially inform these toppers about the science ministry’s ambitions INSIPRE scholarships in a unique bid to attract these students to science in higher education and as a career choice, top government officials told HT.

"It is a most unique method which we are trying and are very hopeful about," a senior official in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) said. The DST met officials of all school boards earlier this month, and the boards suggested sending special letters to science toppers, sources said. The letters will only be sent to the top 1% of science students in each board — only these students are eligible for the INSPIRE Scholarship for Higher Education.

The INSPIRE programme was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008 as a part of his plan to draw bright young students back into science, at a time when financially more lucrative educational and career prospects have reduced the attraction of science.

The scholarship for higher education offers a whopping Rs. 80,000 a year to each winner for the duration of their undergraduate or masters programme in science in Indian institutions. The DST offers 1000 such scholarships each year.

But the government has struggled to find enough takers for the scholarship — suggesting inadequate awareness of the programme and possibly declining numbers of toppers taking up science after school, officials said. The special letter will ensure that the topper is aware of the INSPIRE scholarship, while also serving as a select invitation to pursue science ahead.

Source: Hindustan Times, April 26, 2011

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