“Education is the third eye of a child”, as rightly told by Prof. Achyuta Samanta, Founder-KIIT & KISS — now we really feel it.
KISS is the world’s largest residential tribal University, home to thirty thousand indigenous students who are provided nutrition, holistic formal & vocational education from KG to PG absolutely free of cost. It was established in 1992-93 by renowned educationist & social activist Prof Dr. Achyuta Samanta. Further it is the embodiment of empowerment of the marginalized, underprivileged group of students who have become change agents for their communities by providing emancipation from acute poverty through education.
Life flows on in its myriad path with its ups & downs with the passage of time. Human being’s position is just like a straw in this flow of eternal time. Further, man has no strength to stop this process.
This is the story of Reshma Ekka. She was born to Islam Ekka of remote Ramjodi village of Lathikatha block in Sundergrh district. He braved the multifarious challenges & struggles of life with a lot of patience. Islam was a poor person with five members in the family to feed. He often struggled to arrange two square meals a day for his family. Being a landless farmer, he had to support his family working as a farm labourer. His children also had to help him in this effort. Islam’s younger daughter Reshma had a lot of interest to study. Often, she used to implore her father to help her study. Though quite young, she was determined to turnaround her family’s fortune when she would grow up. But the hapless father could ill afford her studies.
Life took for the better when , Reshma’s father came to know about KISS at Bhubaneswar, where every care is taken for the poor marginalized children from the tribal community. His joy knew no bounds when he realized that there is light at the end of the tunnel for her daughter. His eyes sparkled with the light of hope that finally Reshma could get education, that too with free boarding & lodging facility. Islam got Reshma admitted into KISS in class-I. But fate had ordained something else. Islam could not remain alive to see his daughter succeed in life. Once, when Reshma had come home in the summer vacation while studying in class- II, learnt that her dear father had passed away leaving her as an orphan. Though she got the shock of her life, yet she returned to KISS to continue her studies amidst her class mates & loving care of the teachers. Years had rolled by.
Now, Reshma is studying in class-VI, having topped her class in class -V. In addition to formal education, KISS has also introduced to the life skills. She is also getting opportunity to develop her art, culture & language. She is looking towards the future with new hope in her eyes. She is taking part in many extracurricular activities like elocution competitions & drawing contests. She wants to become the change agent for her entire community & play the role model for children of her community. She is convinced that right education is the panacea of all sorrow & poverty.
She is aware, had it not been for KISS, she would not have been anywhere. KISS is her life. It is Prof. Samanta who has been hand holding the poor disadvantaged children like her & equipping them with a new lease of life. Because of KISS, Reshma is progressing in the path of progress.
Due to the present Corona pandemic situation, Reshma has gone back to her village. But she feels that the pandemic has not been able to derail her from the path of progress. She is happy, that KISS has been regularly providing food, study materials to her during these difficult times. She hopes to rejoin her school after the pandemic is over & try to make her father’s dreams come true .
This case study is an apt example of empowering girl students in the current social transformation process. It is proved that education bridges the gaps & creates new opportunities for the disadvantaged groups.
Given the opportunity, anybody can excel provided he/she has the right intention & determination. This is time & again replicated in tribal dominated hinterlands of our country. It is very important to bring them into the mainstream of society while helping them to protect their own culture & life to bring together a holistic equilibrium in spreading unity in diversity.
Sustainable development has been at the core of KISS programmes since the very beginning. It is also shared by the students to have a vision for a world free from poverty, hunger and illiteracy.
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