Bhubaneswar: In a first-of-its-kind initiative, Keonjhar district administration of Odisha, has decided to provide free textbooks and uniforms along with mid-day meals to the students of class 9 and 10, studying in government and aided schools, from this academic year, said Collector and District Magistrate Ashish Thakare.
The step aimed at reducing dropout rate of students after class 8 by encouraging students to pursue higher studies and addressing their nutritional needs.
Similarly, class 10 students, who will perform well in the board examinations conducted by the Board of Secondary Education (BSE), will be awarded scholarships ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 according to their performance.
Speaking to ANI, Thakare said: "The main objective of this initiative is to prevent the drop-out of students after Class 8 in the district by addressing their nutritional needs during adolescence, encourage them to successfully complete their schooling cycle as well as to support them financially to pursue higher studies beyond class 10 level."
"The initiative, which will be implemented at a cost of Rs 22 crore per annum under district mineral fund (DMF), is in line with the recommendation of the National Education Policy (draft) 2019. This will benefit around 50,000 students of class 9 and 10 of the district every year," he added
As per the District Information and Public Relations department, out of every 100 children who enroll in Class 1, only 60 manage to study beyond Class 10 due to withdrawal of support provided to students in the form of free textbooks, uniforms and mid-day meals after class 8.
In a socio-economically backward district like Keonjhar, where more than 55 per cent of the population belongs to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the initiative is expected to transform secondary education in the district in coming years. (ANI)