UMERKOTE: Exposing the existing inequalities in access to education, technical and post-graduate (PG) courses are still a far cry for thousands of students in the tribal-dominated Nabarangpur district. Having a population of around 70 per cent from the scheduled castes and tribes, the district surprisingly has no engineering or government degree colleges, a fact which belies the tall claims of both the Centre and State administration of improving human development indicators in tribal areas.
Most of the students in Nabarangpur are from socio-economically backward and disadvantaged backgrounds. In absence of government degree colleges, many talented students are forced to discontinue their studies midway due to poverty. Though engineering and degree colleges are there in nearby district, parents of most of the students cannot afford to send them outside due to financial constraints.
Amid the growing demand for access to technical courses, the authorities in 2014 had decided to set up an engineering college in Nabarangpur under the National Higher Education Campaign. Accordingly, it was announced to establish a government engineering college in the district.
In 2015, an MoU was signed between the Centre and Odisha government in this regard. Since Nabarangpur is a poor and backward district, it was decided that the Centre would bear 65 per cent cost of the proposed college while the State will spend the rest 35 per cent. It was also decided that the required land for the college would be provided by Odisha government.
The same year, the State government wrote to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to expedite the process for establishment of the college as the required land was allotted after proper demarcation. Six years on, no progress could be made on the proposal except exchange of letters between the State and Centre.
Nabarangpur Collector Ajit Kumar Mishra said the district administration has already allotted 10 acre of land for the proposed engineering college. Nabarangpur MP Ramesh Chandra Majhi said he had met the HRD Minister at New Delhi and requested him to expedite the process to establish the proposed engineering college in the district.