Jayanti was not paid the monthly stipend of Rs.200, meant
to support her education, since two years of committing suicide. Jayanti
committed suicide by torching herself to escape humiliation in her school for
not having pencil, notebook and other study materials. Had she received her
stipend in time, she could have purchased the necessary stationeries and her
life could have been saved.
All those responsible for non-payment of the
stipend for two long years should have been booked under cases of the murder of Jayanti. But, it didn’t happen. And, it can’t be expected to happen in Naveen
Patnaik’s government that virtually runs by a bunch of bureaucrats who can be
truly termed “brown-skinned Britons,” matching Naveen’s wish and expectation of
characters around him.
Apart from non-payment of stipend, collection of
higher fees in government schools was the other issue. In a meeting conducted by
Binita Senapati, Additional District Education Officer (ADEO), Ganjam, with
Students of Aska Government Girls’ High School and their guardian, on July 5,
the students and guardians complained that school authorities had been
collecting Rs.180 as joining fees per annum from each student even though
collection of fees from students is forbidden as per the provisions of Sarva
Sikhsya Abhiyan (Campaign for Education to All).
The concerned departments of Odisha government
could have initiated prompt action to resolve the issues. District
administration could have been asked to verify if such cases are prevalent in
all districts of the state and similar situation is encountered by other school
going girls of the state. But, nothing happened. No prompt action was initiated
till another such incident occurred.
In the most recent incident of Nabrangpur,
Kanakdei Bhatra, a class X student of Ghatguda High School under Papdahandi
block in Nabarangpur district allegedly attempted to commit suicide by setting
herself on fire, on July 24, 2014, as her parents expressed their inability to
pay her school fees in time.
Rescued by her parents and other villagers,
Kanakdei was first admitted to the local hospital, then at MKCG Medical College
and Hospital at Brahmapur and, now, shifted to Odisha’s largest medical college
hospital in Cuttack as her condition worsened further.
Quoting unnamed sources at MKCG Medical College
and Hospital, Odisha Sun Times, a leading news portal, reported that “Kanakdei
has suffered 95 percent burns on her body. Chances of survival in such cases are
However, everybody hopes that Kanakdei comes out
of all dangers to her life and re-joins school for studies. The Odisha
government, which couldn’t ensure a hitch free education for the poor tribal
girl, has however come forward to bear the cost of treatment of Kanakdei who is
battling for life in a critically burnt condition.
Certainly, a valid reason why Naveen Patnaik must
be hailed! And, to help him win another election, a point must be added to his
performance score card for his able and empathetic leadership.