SSA does wonders among tribal students of Mayurbhanj district

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Barasahi (Mayurbhanj), Apr 10 (UNI) If wishes can be horses Sunita Dorbu Patra's certainly are.

The 16-year-old daughter of an illiterate mason used to collect Kendu leaves from nearby jungles and earn a meagre sum for her family till a few years ago.

Now she dreams of becoming a doctor! Sunita, who lives in the remote Kurial Bandha village in this tribal-dominated district with her eight-member family, came to this block with several of her tribe members in 2004 in search of work.

Instead, her indomitable quest for learning got the better of her and she enrolled herself in the Asanjore Government Girls High School with the help of a local NGO Asha Lata.

There was no looking back after that and thanks to the centrally sponsored Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), Sunita now dreams of becoming a doctor. She has been securing the top position in her class every year, scoring more than 75 per cent marks in almost every subject, including English.

SSA has committed to ensuring women empowerment in the field of education by 2009 as part of the Bharat Nirman Programme.

The success of Sunita and several others whose life underwent a sea change under the SSA programme came to the fore when a team of journalists from Bihar visited the Asanjore Government Girls High School, situated about 40 km from the district headquarters of Baripada recently.

Speaking to UNI between breaks in her class Sunita said apart from English she had secured more than 72 per cent marks in Science, Mathematics and Oriya in her class nine final examinations earlier this year to once again claim the top spot.

Asked about her future plans, a confident Sunita replied, ''I want to be a doctor since I consider that I shall be able to serve my community and others poor like me the best only if I could be a medico.'' Giving full credit to all her seven teachers, particularly headmistress Promila Jana, for her success besides helping her to become a doctor, Sunita also praised the SSA programme.

It has been successfully implemented by the district administration towards spreading the culture of education even among the backward tribes like hers and many others.

Later, elaborating the 'true success' of SSA programme in the tribal dominated (97 per cent) district of Mayurbhanj, Additional District Magistrate Sudipta Jena said under the Multi Lingual Education (MLA), Srujan, Ol-Chiki and the Integrated Education for Disabled (IED) programmes 3431 schools, including 375 new Upper Primary and 158 high schools, had been set up in Orissa since 2005 at a total cost of more than Rs 300 crores.

Claiming that SSA had gone a long way in increasing literacy level among the poor and backward students to as high as 71 per cent, Mr Jena said among the girls the percentage was 59.4 per cent till December 2007.

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