-The Indian Express
Raipur: In a first, as many as 149 students from Naxal-hit areas of Chhattisgarh have cleared the AIEEE while two have cleared the IIT entrance exam this year. Most of them are from tribal BPL families.
They are all a part of the first batch of students of Prayas, a residential school-cum-coaching institute for boys set up by the state tribal welfare department in Raipur in 2010. The department picked 251 students from Naxal-hit districts who had passed Class 10 that year. Besides providing free education, the department also funded their food, uniforms and other needs.
Tenders were invited for teachers, and staff from Patna’s Super 30 were selected.
Of the selected students, 31 are from Bastar district, 38 from Rajnandgaon, five from Bijapur, 14 from Dantewada, 22 from Kanker, seven from Narainpur, 31 from Surguja, two from Jashpur, and one from Koriya.
“At least 50 will be selected for NITs, while the remaining will find seats in IIITs. If we keep producing similar results, the face of Naxal areas will change in five years,” said hostel superintendent Sripati Azgar. “They will go back with stories of academic success, pushing others to take the same route.”
The families are yet to realise the achievement of their children. Jai Prakash, who secured 780 (ST) rank in the IIT entrance exam, is the son of a MGNREGA labourer. “Maine unhein bataaya, unhein pataa hi nahin ye sab kya hai,” he said. He and Sri Prakash, who got 405 (ST) rank, hope to get a seat at IIT-BHU.
Encouraged by the success, the government inaugurated another wing last week to set up a similar school-cum-coaching centre for girls. Chief Minister Raman Singh also distributed Apple iPads to all the students.
Meanwhile, 11 boys and girls from remote areas of Dantewada also cracked the AIEEE this year. All are students of residential schools-cum-coaching centres initiated by collector O P Chaudhary last year.