To encourage young children to excel in academics, the Education Department has launched a program to award scholarships to meritorious students at the elementary level on the basis of a competitive test.

About 500 students will be given three-year scholarship from class VI, for which the competitive test will be conducted for students of class V at the block level. The test will be conducted from November 30 in each of the 124 education blocks and scholarships will be granted to the top four students, two boys and two girls, in each block.

The scholarship will be available for a period of three years, during which the academic performance of the students will be monitored. The scholarship will be discontinued in case beneficiary students fail in the annual examination.

The department will have to conduct the test as there is no board examination at the class V level to ascertain merit. Scholarships for various categories of students at the senior secondary level are awarded on the basis of the merit in the matriculation examination.

The department has decided to introduce an online system for processing and disbursing all scholarships in a phased manner, which will ensure the timely release of scholarships.

All applications will be received online from schools from the next financial year. The students selected will be required to open no-frill bank accounts. After processing cases, the scholarship amount will be deposited in the accounts.

The decision to disburse the scholarship through core banking will benefit over 20,000 students in the first phase. The state has procured special software for e-disbursement from the Centre of Excellence in Good Governance, set up by the Andhra Pradesh Government, which provides scholarships worth Rs 2,500 crore a year.