In Odisha’s residential schools for tribal girls, education comes at a cost

Momita Batra (left) and Karma Mandali, both aged 14, in Podieguda village in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, during Christmas break. Nine years ago, they enrolled in a residential school–the state government’s answer to low female literacy among the state’s tribal girls. These schools, we found, are poorly run and ripe for abuse.

Beginning with a 10-day trip in December 2018 across five schools and seven villages in Malkangiri and Rayagada districts, this reporter has investigated the conditions at Odisha’s residential schools, particularly for girls. Visiting, speaking to and following up with numerous students, parents, school staff and NGO representatives over a period of months, we found that despite the attention that tribal girls’ education receives from the government and the investments purportedly made, residential schools are poorly run and ripe for abuse.

The first-generation students’ experience in an alien and often unsympathetic environment is not conducive for personal growth. Students are constantly reminded that they should be grateful for the free education and lodging, and not complain when facilities and services fall short–which, we found, they frequently do. Girls are especially vulnerable and have few means to share grievances without fear, much less seek redressal or justice. Experts were of the opinion that by providing substandard quality of life and education, residential schools are further perpetuating class and caste divides and discrimination, and are not the answer to Odisha’s education challenges.

Read the long-form report on IndiaSpend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s