CARRYING THEIR certificates in files adorned with colourful tribal motifs, they walked in a line out of the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station — all 84 of them, eager and excited.
They had reached Delhi on Sunday after a 30-hour train journey from Hyderabad. Now, these students from two residential institutions for tribal children in Telangana were on their way to make a dream come true — admission to colleges in the National Capital.
Last year, 12 students from one of the two institutions — Telangana Tribal Welfare Residential Gurukulam — got admissions in colleges under Delhi University for the first time, sparking a buzz back home. This time, students from schools under the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Gurukulam, too, have joined the queue — both the institutions are affiliated to the state board.
“The 12 who got admissions last year are doing very well here, studying at Miranda House, Hansraj and Hindu colleges. Now, they are helping us with the admission process. We want our children to get opportunities like others,” says Veriya Naik, physical director at a tribal welfare school who is accompanying the students.
“Their education is funded by the Telangana government. From Class V to the undergraduate level, these residential schools provide free education to children from marginalised sections and tribal pockets of the state,” says Naik.
Telangana has 169 tribal welfare and 268 social welfare schools, according to the government’s official website — they were first set up in 1994 in what was then undivided Andhra Pradesh.
According to Naik, most of the children with him are first-generation learners from small villages in the state’s interiors. On Monday night, as the cut-offs were declared, most had made it to popular colleges and courses of their choice in Delhi.
The top scorer in this group with 98.4 per cent in Class XII, Bharat Kunapuli from Nalgonda district, has secured a seat for Chemistry (Hons) at Hindu College. “I want to become a scientist. I have also been called for an interview at St Stephen’s. I am preparing for it, but I am scared that I will not qualify because of my poor English skills… But I think I will slowly learn. To become something in life you have to learn and accept new things,” says the 18-year-old.
Swati Vankudoth, with 98 per cent, will be studying Botany (Hons) at Miranda House. “I am the first in the family to have travelled out of Telangana. My parents are farmers and my two elder sisters are married and settled back home in Nalgonda district… For me, Delhi is the place to fulfill my dream of becoming an IAS officer,” she says.
Then there’s Hatkar Tarun from a family of farmers in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district, who is here with brother Arun.
“I will be studying Statistics (Hons) in Hindu College. We have come out of our state for the first time. Our parents were very happy but scared that we were going so far. But we told them not to worry,” says Tarun, who scored 90.15 per cent.
Arun, meanwhile, has something else to smile about — and it’s not the 93.1 per cent he scored or the Botany (Hons) seat in Hindu College.
Along with the other students, Arun is camping at the Assam Association’s Srimanta Sankaradeva Bhawan in Qutub Institutional Area. “Today, we took a Metro train to reach Delhi University’s north campus. It was my first experience on the Metro, it was very nice,” he says.