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Odisha’s Free Residential Education Programme “Anwesha” For ST, SC Children Is A Gamechanger

By
OB Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government has expanded its free residential school programme for needy ST and SC children, “Anwesha”, to 17 districts of the state benefitting 22,340 children.

These children selected through a lottery system from families in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category residing in remote areas, stay in 98 Anwesha hostels of 163 English medium schools located in urban areas.

According to ST & SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department, the objective is to mainstream these children by providing an enabling environment for holistic growth. The Department has thus recruited special subject matter teachers in Mathematics, English and Science in addition to other tutors. They serve as “after-school mentors” to the students enrolled under the programme.

Indoor and outdoor game facilities, a healthy diet and all necessary study materials are also provided to the students under the programme.

“Anwesha is creating a base for healthy ST and SC students with smart body and mind so that they do well in the CBSE/ICSE Board examinations. Our department is trying to fulfil its mandate to provide free educational opportunities to talented needy boys and girls who come from the remotest corner and shine like bright stars through their upbringing in the ecosystem provided by the scheme,” said the department’s Commissioner-cum-Secretary Roopa Roshan Sahoo.

“My son, Sourav Minz, has been staying at Anwesha hostel in Urban Education Complex, Kirei Square, Sundargarh since Class I. He is in Class IX now. This unique programme has given us what we had never imagined in our life. The authorities are taking care of everything and my son is doing well both in academics and extra-curricular activities,” said Narendra Minz, a parent.

The programme was started as a pilot project “Creation of Urban Hostel Complexes and Exemption of Tuition Fees for ST, SC students to study in public schools” and was executed in two Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) of Berhampur in Ganjam. In the first year, 220 students from Class-I to Class-IX were provided hostel facilities under the scheme. It was started in 2015-16 fiscal for five years and extended in 2020 again for five years at a cost of Rs 569.90 crore.

Today there are Anwesha hostels in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Kalahandi, Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Deogarh and Angul districts where 8,825 boys and 7,884 girls from ST category and 2,901 boys and 2,730 girls from SC category are enrolled.

“My daughter has found a second home at Anwesha hostel. Besides study materials, a wellness grant of Rs 200 per month is also being provided to the grown-up girls. It is very beneficial,” said Ramesh Beheramajhi, father of Lizarani Beheramajhi, who stays in an Anwesha hostel in Phulbani.

OB Bureau

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