The present LG led Administration is giving prime focus on the education which can be gauged from the fact that the department of tribal affairs, for the first time, initiated an exercise to assess the state of education viz a viz tribal education and literacy levels prevalent among the tribal population.
Based on such surveys, a comprehensive education plan was formulated to address specific educational needs of tribals besides efforts are being made by the Education department to upgrade the educational institutions across J&K.
The Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha, on November 25, launched the UT government’s ambitious project of transforming 200 schools into smart schools for tribal communities in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 40 crore.
The modernisation of schools started in two phases — the first 100 schools were transformed by March 2022 and the remaining are being done by December 2022. The LG also announced scholarships for 21,000 children from Gaddi, Sippi, Dard and Sheena communities who were deprived of the same for several years.
This was the historic beginning of a new era of educational empowerment of tribals in Jammu and Kashmir. The priority of present Government is to secure the future of tribal children. Smart schools in tribal and remote areas being equipped with modern facilities which can develop scientific temper in children and make them future-ready, besides arresting the dropout rate.
Over last two years the department under the guidance of Lieutenant Governor has laid a strong foundation for tribal education to address the gaps particularly in planning, inclusive development and empowerment viz a viz education.
A senior official of Tribal affairs department said that in 2021 multiple exercises were undertaken to access the status of education in tribal areas, gather micro database, obtain community feedback, assess the available facilities as well as opportunities and finally put in place an education plan for tribal population ensuring an inclusive educational landscape in Jammu and Kashmir.
Notably, the first revision of scholarship was notified in July 2022 with 125-140% increase in scholarship. This enhancement makes the quality of education affordable for tribal students and empowers them to access the best educational institutions and study resource material.
The average slab of scholarship in Group A courses has been increased from Rs. 30,000/- to more than Rs. 70,000/ annum. Likewise, in Group D it is increased from mere `Rs. 12,000 to more than Rs. 27,000/annum. Further, taking into account the emerging requirements of skilling, diversity in courses of higher education and feedback by several students more than 300 more courses were added to the decade old list of less than 50 courses under which students were eligible for scholarship.
The administration has also formulated a framework for the functioning of the smart schools. Members of the tribal communities, Panchayati Raj Institution representatives and the people associated with voluntary organisations will be involved in the management so that these schools could perform the role of change-makers in our society.
Lives are changed when everything is connected. Tribal Education Plan, scholarships, smart schools will do justice to tribal communities in Jammu and Kashmir who were neglected for decades. These initiatives will also ensure that the members of tribal communities can keep pace with the revolutionary and rapid changes happening around them and connect themselves to the world.