Locals for Reservation in Orissa Central University

If the establishment of Orissa Central University in Koraput has brought hope of a brighter future for the youth of this backward district, the general enthusiasm is low for fear of not being able to make it to the institution through the competitive entrance test.

An easy way out according to the aspirants is reserving at least 50 per cent seats in the University for the locals.

“The University has brought a ray of hope for all of us here but we wonder how many from the district can clear the entrance test. The standard of education here is extremely low and students often lose out in competitive exams,” says Dhampati Eding, a local resident.

“Also, the focus of post-graduate courses is on science and research, instead of social studies and technical education with which our younger generation can relate,” he adds.

Suggesting that at least 50 per cent seats be reserved for local young men for pursuing higher education, Mr. Eding says this would ensure that more tribal students make it to institutions of higher education.

His sentiment is backed by the Koraput District Gram Panchayat Sarpanch Association, comprising 226 gram panchayats of the district.

Koraput is a predominantly tribal dominated district and forms part of the Korapur-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) belt of Orissa. The Scheduled Tribe population is about 50 per cent, the Scheduled Castes comprise 13 per cent and the Other Backward Classes another 20 per cent but with a high percentage of Below Poverty Line population.

The literacy rate is 35 per cent and female literacy even less – 20 per cent. More than anything else, the people here expect the University to initiate job-oriented courses that would keep the young men away from straying into the Naxal activities and also prevent migration to larger cities.

Describing Naxalism as more of a law and order problem, District Collector Rajesh Pravakar Patil says the institution could help in containing the problem if local young men enroll themselves in research and found gainful employment.

Engaging the youth in activities will create a sense of security in this educationally backward region.

Creation of infrastructure also indicates visible development which is very important, he adds.

“In a highly globalised world, Koraput desperately needed a higher educational institution,” Vice-Chancellor Surabhi Banerjee told a visiting group of reporters here.

The University was created with a vision. It is an impoverished district but rich in natural resources, diversity and is an encyclopaedia of tribal society. “Some of the courses initiated here are keeping in mind the local needs,” she said.

One such initiative taken by the University authorities is to set up a Centre for Tribal Welfare and Community Development as an extension project that aims to come up as a centre for excellence for creating linkages with the developed world for the unemployed youth by conducting and facilitating various skill development programmes.

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