BHUBANESWAR: The department of Higher Education will soon begin work on enrolling children orphaned by COVID-19 and during the pandemic into the higher education institutes from the 2022-23 academic session under the Green Passage scheme.
The existing Green Passage scheme which is being implemented across the State since the 2016-17 academic session has been providing free higher education to orphan children who are either in foster care or child care institutions.
Officials in the department said the district-level authorities concerned will be asked to identify COVID orphan students from Class 12 to those at PG level. The identified students will be provided financial assistance to complete their higher education.
The State will bear all the expenses including tuition fees and hostel accommodation. And the government would bear the total cost of these students irrespective of the fact that they pursue studies in private or government colleges and universities.
In case of students who are under foster care or care of a guardian, the district child protection officer (DCPO) will need both the recommendation of Child Welfare Committee as well as the income certificate from the tehsildar concerned based on which the DCPO will issue a certificate indicating him as beneficiary of the scheme. In case of students residing in child care institutions, the DCPO will verify his/her records and issue the certificate straight away.
A provision of Rs 10 crore has been made for six academic sessions beginning 2022-23 for the purpose, with Rs 2 crore for each session. Earlier this year, the State government had said that around 24,405 children were orphaned by COVID or during the pandemic in Odisha.