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Welfare Santa for stay schools
- Residential students to get annual gift hamper of shoes & sweaters

Ranchi, June 27: Three cheers for being well shod and warmly snug.

Three years is thrice as much time for children to outgrow shoes and woollens, feels the state welfare department.

The department has decided to provide students of state-run residential schools with a pair of shoes and a sweater every year instead of the earlier norm of once every three years. With three being the operative number here, the department has, in a fit of generosity, also hiked the budget for footwear and woollens from Rs 80 lakh in three years to the same amount in one year.

This is an internal budget revamp. Amounts under the Rs 5 crore ceiling do not need the green light of the cabinet.

Deputy director of welfare department Naseem Khan, who looks after needs of students in residential across the state, said they had taken the decision as footwear and clothing need to keep pace with growing children.

“We are in the process of inviting tenders to select suppliers for shoes and sweaters,” she said.

In all, about 20,000 needy Scheduled Caste, Schedule Tribe and Other Backward Caste students study in around 130 residential cradles, including 55 high schools, dotted across the districts.

The state government bears the cost of their lodging, food, uniforms, shoes, warm clothes, et al.

In a survey taken at the beginning of this year, the department found out that many students walked barefoot or shivered in small sweaters as they had outgrown them in three years.

“This new provision will help students of our residential schools to wear shoes during class hours. It will make them feel comfortable and smart. They’ll grow in confidence too,” said an official of the welfare department.

Many are looking at this unexpected bounty as reward for diligent study. This year, students of residential schools had secured a high 88 per cent pass percentage in the Class X examination conducted by Jharkhand Academic Council, compared to the 69 per cent average across the normal “day” state-run schools.

This statistic is all the more remarkable as many residential schools are tucked in remote pockets of the districts, without electricity and inaccessible by public transport as well.

A case in point — the ST Boys’ Residential School in Dombari, 20 km from Khunti in Ranchi district.

Most of Jharkhand’s 32,000-odd villages remain without electrification till date. For residential school students in these areas, evenings are engulfed in darkness. An enterprising few study under lanterns. In a very few places, NGOs chip in with solar lanterns.

Several tribal students belonging to needy families or first-generation students had also passed Class X with flying colours.

Right now, tubelight and fans may be luxuries for many. But new shoes and woollens will arrive on time.

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