Creating history of sorts, two students of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in Adilabad, Telangana, have cleared the JEE Advanced entrance for IITs, results of which were declared Sunday. This is the first time anyone from these tribes, recognised as endangered, will go to an engineering college.
The two belong to the Kolam and Manne tribes. Four other tribal students, including a girl, of the Gond and Lambada communities have cleared the entrance.
“It is a great achievement this year for students of the marginalised communities,” said Dr Praveen Kumar, IPS officer and secretary, Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society, in the Social Welfare Department. “Boys and girls from tribes facing extinction have qualified for IITs. In these tribal families, even two meals a day is a luxury. But given an opportunity to study, they excelled.”
The population of the Kolam and Manne tribes, found only in Telangana, is less than 3,000 each. The tribes lead simple lives in the forests, although in recent years they have started sending their children to government tribal welfare residential schools. Officials said these tribals live in poverty, hit by deforestation and loss of traditional livelihoods.
Besides Pudari Srinivas (Manne PVTG) and Pujari Adharsh (Kolam PVTG), the other four to qualify are Perka Chitru (Gond), Keram Nagamani (Pardhani), and Badhavath Rejender and Jhadav Niranjan (Lambada).
They studied at various schools of Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society in Adilabad, Nirmal and Mancherial districts and were specially coached at the Adilabad district regional IIT coaching centre. Although the six tribal students cleared Advanced, their ranks may not enable them to join an IIT; they will get admission to top engineering colleges.
In the JEE Main exam earlier, 162 from social welfare schools and 113 from tribal welfare schools qualified from Telangana. Of these, 21 students cleared JEE Advanced.
Besides these 21 students who will join IITs, at least 50 other SC and ST students will join the National Institutes of Technology. The Telangana government will provide scholarships to all these students, and bear their fees in the first year of college. They will remain eligible for fee reimbursement for the next four years.
“Some of the brightest kids among these tribals were chosen and given special coaching for nearly six months. The IIT coaching project is called Star-30 under which 30 students are selected from various Tribal Welfare Residential Colleges and given rigorous coaching,” said R V Karnan, Mancherial district collector and project officer at Integrated Tribal Development Authority.
There are 268 residential institutions under the TSWREI Society which, besides providing coaching for JEE Advanced, gives coaching to underprivileged students for admissions to NITs, IIITs and medical colleges.