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Education fellows to mentor, be ‘support system’ for students of 50 tribal residential, ZP schools in Gadchiroli

Called 'Educate Gadchiroli Fellowship', the scheme is financially supported by NITI Aayog. The district administration invited applications from young graduates and postgraduates from prominent universities and educational institutions to stay in schools located in remote parts of the Naxal-affected district for a year.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Pune |
July 21, 2021 1:58:35 am
From over 200 applications received from across the country, the district administration has selected 40 candidates, who come from diverse institutions with different subject specialties.

THE GADCHIROLI district administration has embarked on a novel scheme to expose students of 50 tribal residential and zilla parishad schools to “inspirational interface” with young honorary teachers from across India, who have been appointed as “education fellows”.

Called ‘Educate Gadchiroli Fellowship’, the scheme is financially supported by NITI Aayog. The district administration invited applications from young graduates and postgraduates from prominent universities and educational institutions to stay in schools located in remote parts of the Naxal-affected district for a year. They will not only teach different subjects to students from Classes VIII TO X, but also act as “support system” to “transform the schools into centres of excellence”.

From over 200 applications received from across the country, the district administration has selected 40 candidates, who come from diverse institutions with different subject specialties.

The NITI Aayog has provided Rs 1 crore for the scheme. Some are also IIT and engineering graduates from prominent institutions, while some have received their education from prominent universities like Delhi University, Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Amity, Azim Premji, and are from education institutions based out of Pune and Mumbai as well as other states, along with private universities. They will stay for a year at places where the schools — 38 ashram (residential) schools and 12 ZP schools — are located.

The process of fellow selection ended a fortnight ago, but uncertainty over the reopening of schools due to Covid-19, however, has withheld the beginning of actual teaching.

“They will be paid an honorarium of Rs 30,000 per month, apart from accommodation and travel expenses. Many opted out after interviews because of the money being offered. We, too, wanted scholars to work for the students and not just the salary. This is a fellowship, not a job,” said Gadchiroli collector Deepak Singla.

Asked how the idea was conceived, Singla said, “NITI Aayog sought ideas for doing something innovative. So, we put our heads together and thought of the education fellows idea. The idea was born out of discussions we had about students, and as to why they find it difficult to clear SSC and HSC examinations. Students complained of lack of teachers. It is difficult to get teachers, least of all good teachers, to teach at such remote locations. So we thought we could try the fellowship idea. We submitted the plan to NITI Aayog, which readily accepted it and gave the go-ahead. Appeals went out to prominent educational institutions and universities inviting applications. “Three panels headed by collector, zilla parishad CEO and project officer of Integrated Tribal Development Project were formed to interview aspirants. The panels also included experts from universities on relevant subjects,” Singla said.

“We expect fellows to not only teach subjects, but also enlighten students about the outside world that they know little about. They should inspire students to excel in life. Even if we are able to produce 50 good students from each of these schools, who could make the grade of excellence, the scheme would accomplish its objective,” Singla added.

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