KISS of knowledge and sustenance
Kolkata, Sep 22: Hard times generated out of ignorance and poverty could only be warded off with quality education and creation of ample opportunities.
Ten-year old Anjali Beera, a Santhal from Orissa's Keonjhar district, could hardly thought of leaping the confinement of abject poverty and gain access to a proper schooling, thanks to the Bhubaneswar-based Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). She is presently studying in Class Four and simultaneously receiving practical inputs in sewing, handicraft, pickel and jam making. Anjali's parents were engaged in farm activities and they are six siblings including her.
Sprawling over 50 acres, the KISS is a residential institute for tribal children which provides fooding, clothing and vocational training free of cost since its inception in 1994. The school, apart from catering primary and secondary education to the children, conducts undergraduate courses in Arts, Commerce and Science.
The residential school has a total strength of 7,000 tribal students representing 56 tribes drawn from the backward regions of Orissa. This also includes 13 primitive tribes.
It is noteworthy that a team comprising KISS boys had won Under-14 Rugby World Cup overplaying their South African opponents in London in September 2007.
''Childhood days were desolate and wintry dark when my father passed away before I could cut my fifth birthday cake. I had to sell bananas and coconut in the local market to make the both ends meet in my family and support my education. After completing M.Sc in Chemistry, I taught in colleges under Utkal University,'' Dr Achyuta Samanta, founder of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and KISS, said.
Dr Samanta was recounting his days of hardships prior to his strong determination took shape to a Rs 1,200-crore KIIT armed with ten campuses and a brigade of 13,000 students. However, the beginning dates back to an ITI set up by him in 1992 in Bhubaneswar. ''That was too in a rented building with a strength of two students and a meagre capital of Rs 5,000. I had to even borrow that amount from my friends for chasing my dreams,'' he said.
KIIT imparts education in engineering, medicine, business management, bio-technology, rural management, computer application and law, armed with Wi-Fi campuses. It would introduce braches of studies like film technology, media studies and fashion technology during the current year, the founder informed.
Sprawling over 250 acres, it is the youngest university in the country to bag awards from the Limca Book of Records for four different categories simultaneously.
''The tribal community in Orissa formed one-fourth of the state's population who are suffering abject poverty and neglected in the society. Since I have tasted abject poverty, I wanted to do something for the have-nots. My policy is to eradicate poverty, ignorance and illiteracy through proper education. KISS has obtained 40,000 applications from the parents of different tribal communities to get their children admitted in the institute,'' he elaborated Five per cent of seats under various disciplines in KIIT is reserved for the meritorious students of KISS, he said adding West bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Karnataka were in his radar to come up with similar institutes.
'' Imparting quality education to a deprived child is like giving sight to a blind,'' signed off Dr Samanta.