Due to an aberration in the Government policy, children belonging to Scheduled Caste are deprived of education in residential sevashram schools of Dhenkanal district even as those of Scheduled Tribe are given the scope to avail the same. Ironically, the SC population is more than STs in the district.
According to official sources, 5,550 children are studying in sevashram schools at several places in the district with most of them belonging to outside the district. Four sevashram schools at Kapilash, Domsal, Batagaon and Kantilo offer high school study.
As per the norm, 90 per cent of seats in every sevashram school are reserved for tribal children leaving 10 per cent for SC children. Besides being deprived of the facility of residential school, the SC children are forced to drop out midway through school education.
The SC families point out that since they are economically backward, they want to admit their wards in residential school where the children are provided food three times a day, study materials and uniforms free of cost. On the other hand, at general schools, meal is served once in a day, they added.
About 40,000 persons live in 52 villages that come under the Modified Area Development Agency (MADA), funded by the Government of India.
All of them want to send their children to the Government aided free residential schools.
The SC children also include those separated from their families and orphans. As per 2001 census, the total population of the district had touched 10.66 lakh with more than 1.97 lakh belonging to SC community and over 1.36 lakh to ST. In such a scenario, reservation of 10 per cent of seats for SC students is considered a discrimination.
Sources said District Child Welfare Committee, a quasi-judicial statutory body, had appealed to District Welfare Officer for admitting SC children in sevashram schools but the latter expressed his inability due to standing norms.
Despite the grim scenario, no MP or MLA or the Collector has initiated steps to apprise the SC & ST Department to open residential schools for SC children
here. Many committees and Commissioner-cum-Secretary have reviewed works and activities of District Welfare Officer who is monitoring all the sevashram schools but no proposal has been sent in this connection till date.
District Welfare Officer PC Dash admitted about the plight of SC children and that he had received complaints from the community. He said separate sevashram schools for SC children should be opened.
Meanwhile, National Commission for SC and ST visited the district and reviewed the educational status of the SC and ST children but did not take any action on the problem of SC children.
90 pc of seats in every sevashram school are reserved for tribal children leaving only 10 pc for SC students
* As per 2001 census, there are over 1.97 lakh SC children for whom reservation of 10 pc is considered a discrimination
* National Commission for SC and ST visited the district and reviewed the educational status of SC and ST children but did not take any action