Meghna Jain’s father drives the car of the District Collector. But he has bigger dreams for Meghna. He wants her to be a Collector one day.
“I am here to fulfil my father’s dream,’’ says Meghna who is studying in the Prayas Residential School for Girls at Kanker. A Class X student, she wants to make it big in life. She got admission here after clearing an entrance test. “I want to change the things in my village.’’
Another student, Muskaan is from Sukma. She also left her village to enrol herself here as there was no good school back home. A topper in school, Muskaan wanted to study further so when she heard about the Prayas Schools from someone in the village, she lost no time in applying.
“I have always wanted to do something for my village. There are no good schools and when I grow up I really want to bring in development in my village,’’ she says with steely resolve.
Like Meghna and Muskaan, there are many more academically bright students here who have left their homes to shape their lives. They want to become engineers, doctors, crack civil services and some even want to become journalists.
“We ensure physical and emotional well-being of the students here. Each one of them is brilliant who has cleared entrance to get into Prayas. Here, we not only help them do well in their Board exams but also groom them to crack entrance exams,’’ says Ashalata Sharma, Superintendent of this school in Kanker.
Prayas schools were started by the Chhattisgarh government in 2010 for the students from the Left-Wing Extremist affected areas where there were no or little possibilities for higher education. Run by the Tribal Affairs Department, the schools provide free boarding, lodging, education and health facilities.
“We love it here. I have made lots of friends and we enjoy studying, sports, dancing and singing,’’ says Varsha Patel, also from Sukma.
The first such school was opened in Raipur in 2010 under the Mukhyamantri Bal Bhavishya Suraksha Yojana. In 2017-18, the scheme was allotted a budget of Rs 1510.90 lakh. `The scheme is proving to be a blessing for the students, both boys and girls, from the LWE-affected regions.
The initial schools were meant for Class 11 and 12 students but over the years, students from Class 9 and 10th were also included. The students are coached for cracking all-India entrance exams. At present, there are 6 Prayas schools one each in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Ambikapur, Jagdalpur, and Kanker.
The first school in Raipur had a capacity for 300 students but there are 1,700 students enrolled at present. In 2017, as many as 8 students cracked the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), 8 went to medical colleges and 40 to NIIT. Since 2010, as many as 23 Prayas students have made it to IITs, 117 to NITs, 27 to various medical colleges and 52 to other engineering colleges.