Mata Savitribai Phule must have had the conviction that she was doing something revolutionary when she braved the stones and mud to teach girls. Her determination was boosted by her husband, Jyotiba Phule, also her driving force. On 1st January 1848, Savitri opened the first school for native girls. The couple faced social headwinds for their pioneering work, leading Savitri to leave her husband's father's house.
However, Savitri proved to be a trailblazer when several such schools were opened throughout the country in the 19th Century itself. Female students went on to complete their schooling. However, this was limited to a microscopic minority, and the pioneering work of Mata Savitribai Phule was yet to make the intended ripples through society. However, one must remember that the life of the pioneering lady was too short, and her mission too large to have had a comprehensive impact then.
Today, as women make strides in fields like academics, journalism, medicine, law, etc., their success bears the mark of Phule’s effort about 175 years ago. Until a few decades ago, Savitribai Phule was an unknown figure outside some circles in Maharashtra. But thanks to the efforts of the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, Savitri, along with her husband, has become known throughout India.
The government as well as several institutions have funded fellowships and scholarships in her name, which help girl students in pursuing their education not only in India but also outside the country. Let's have a look at the various schemes that have been initiated in the name of the lady who is now often referred to as the real goddess of education.
Savitribai Jyotirao Phule Fellowship for Single Girl Child (SJSGC is a fellowship scheme by the University Grants Commission (UGC), Department of Higher Education, for pursuing research work leading to the award of a Ph.D. degree. The scheme is meant for the ‘single girl child,’ i.e. the only girl child in the family without having any brother or sister. However, the scheme extends to a girl scholar who is one of the twin daughters/fraternal daughters. The purpose of the scheme is to promote the concept of a single girl child by incentivizing it.
- Junior research fellows (JRF) will be given ₹31,000 per month.
- Senior research fellows (SRF) will be given ₹35,000 per month.
- Also, Divyang scholars will also be given ₹35,000 per month.
In February 2023, the University Grants Commission has decided to expand or revise the scheme to include students who are doing research in the various fields of Science, Technology, as well as Engineering. The age limit for girl students is 40 years, whereas for SC/ST/OBC, it is 45 years.
Savitri Bai Kishori Samriddhi Yojana, Jharkhand:Financial help is provided to girl students from Class 8th to Class 12th. Girls studying in class 8th and 9th are provided with ₹2,500, and those in class 10th, 11th, and 12th are provided ₹5,000.
This scheme is meant for SC (Scheduled Caste), VJNT (Vimukta Jati Notified tribe), and SBC (Specially Backward Castes). Under this scheme, girl students from class 5th to 10th are provided ₹100 per month. The aim of the scheme is to address the dropout of girl students.
Savitribai Phule Graduate Scholarship: This can be considered the first international scholarship in the name of Savitri Bai Phule as it covers the entire study-related expenses of the student while studying in Oxford. The scholarship is open to both male and female students. This scholarship has been launched in 2023 by Somerville College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, to support students from marginalized communities and underrepresented backgrounds.
- The candidate shall belong to the Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi community (SC/ST/OBC community).
- Be a first-generation learner.
The candidate may not necessarily belong to both of the aforementioned categories and can belong to either of them.
Niharika Singh, who belongs to a scheduled caste family from the state of Uttar Pradesh, is the first Savitribai Phule Scholar and is pursuing MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance from the University of Oxford. Speaking to Mooknayak, Niharika said, “The Savitribai Phule scholarship is an important initiative for promoting representation and diversity in the University of Oxford. The scholarship becomes significant as it encourages underrepresented community members to work on pressing issues that are often overlooked or understudied in academia."