The Government of Jharkhand, in 2021, launched a revolutionary scheme in the area of education of tribal students – The Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Munda Overseas Scholarship, named in the honour of a tribal revolutionary, a hockey legend and also a member of the Constituent Assembly of India. The scholarship aims to send students to the UK and Northern Ireland for higher studies, where all awardees of the scholarship are entitled to a complete coverage of tuition fees along with living and other miscellaneous expenses.
The scholarship scheme, only in its second year of implementation, has brought about a radical change in the lives of 26 students. The Government of Jharkhand recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British High Commission, for further expansion of the scheme – as a first of its kind knowledge partnership between The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office with the prestigious Chevening Scholarship and the state government.
According to Census 2011, the literacy rate of Jharkhand, particularly tribals, is below the national average. Clearly, more work needs to be done as far as education among tribals is concerned.
The launch of the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Munda Overseas Scholarship scheme aims to bridge the gap in education among tribals with other communities and provide the much-needed push to elevate the status of the tribal communities in the overall scheme of things.
During the scheme’s implementation process, I had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with students from different backgrounds who had faced various challenges in their journeys. Following are some of the inspiring stories I came across:
- In the academic year 2021-22, a total of 6 students were awarded the scholarship. Dinesh Bhagat, one of the students who was awarded the scholarship is pursuing his Master’s degree on Climate Change from the University of Sussex. Bhagat belongs to a farming background and hails from a remote village in Sisai, Gumla. He completed his graduation in Geology and says that studying in a prestigious institution like the University of Sussex is a “dream come true” and that he wants to improve the lives of people living in mining areas and find ways to reduce the harmful effects of mining in Jharkhand after he gets his degree. The scholarship scheme has inspired students like Bhagat to fulfil their dreams of studying at the best educational institutions in the British Isles.
- Another student, Madhuri Xalxo, a resident of a rural village in Mandar, Ranchi, is one of the students to receive the scholarship in the academic year 2022-23. A first-generation lawyer from NALSAR, Hyderabad, she will be pursuing an M.Phil. in Law from SOAS, University of London. Presently working on issues of human rights at International Justice Mission, she wants to “provide voice to Adivasis in their struggle of maintaining dignity, of aspiring justice that profoundly affects the lives of Adivasis.”
- Nidhi Kispotta, an ambitious student who belongs to the small town of Chaibasa, who has been selected to the University of Warwick for Masters in Public Health, is thankful to the scholarship scheme and says that she never thought that she will be able to get a chance to study abroad, that too, free of cost. Kispotta wants to leverage her skills gained from the study to pilot a design thinking framework for the health administration in Jharkhand to let people recognize these health-related challenges and prepare to meet them.
- Deepika Tete, a student who hails from Gumla, one of the most backward districts of Jharkhand, comes from a family with a poor financial status. Her family could not afford the visa application fees for sending her to UK for her studies. She was provided all possible support by the state government so that she could achieve her dream. She has been selected to pursue her M.Sc. in International Business and Management with Industrial Placement in the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. Deepika hopes to secure a placement in a reputed firm to help her family financially. She also aims to give back to the society.
- Sanjay Paul Kujur, who had unfortunately lost both his parents at an early age, is one of the recipients of the Marang Gomke Scholarship. Kujur, a resident of Mandar, a remote block with a challenging terrain in Ranchi, had to provide tuitions to make ends meet. He is now pursuing a Master of Science in Geographic Data Science in Birbeck, University of London, UK. He says that his life has changed for the better, all thanks to the scholarship scheme, and promises to do everything in his capacity to make the world a better place.
The above examples are not just of students studying in reputed institutions in UK, but also represent the aspirations of underprivileged sections of the society finally seeing light at the end the tunnel.
Besides this scheme, the Government of Jharkhand also aims to launch coaching classes for aspirants of IIT-JEE and NEET from the Scheduled Tribes community. The free-of-cost coaching and allied scheme will help tribal students in achieving their dream of studying in IITs and reputed medical institutions.
The Government has also launched a scheme for UPSC aspirants from the Scheduled Tribes community, which provides a monetary reward of Rs. 1 lakh to graduate students who have cleared the Preliminary phase of the examination conducted by UPSC, for further preparation.
There is no doubt that the quality and orientation of education in Jharkhand needs to be improved so that the tribal students do not have problem in competing with others or tribals of other regions. Education among tribes has been a major driving force for their empowerment and well-being, and hence, needs to be properly linked with its backward and forward bearings. The launch of the Marang Gomke Overseas Scholarship scheme aims to fulfil the same and has proved to be a watershed moment for transformation of education among tribals, and along with coaching schemes for competitive examinations, will guide the community towards a better future.