In an effort to reduce the dropout rates of students, the Keonjhar district administration in Odisha has decided to extend free textbooks, uniforms and midday meals to Class 9 and 10 students of all government and aided schools across the district.
The first-of-its-kind initiative in the state will also award scholarships ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 to class 10 students who perform well in the board examinations conducted by the Board of Secondary Education (BSE).
The initiative will encourage students for high school studies and also address their nutritional needs. It will be rolled out by the district mineral foundation (DMF) from the current academic year.
"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," Collector and District Magistrate Ashish Thakare told ANI.
In Keonjhar district, out of every 100 children who enroll in Class 1, only 60 continue their studies beyond Class 10, due to withdrawal of support provided to them in the form of free textbooks, uniforms and mid-day meals after class 8, according to the District Information and Public Relations department.
The initiative is expected to transform secondary education in the district, where 55 per cent of the population belongs to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.