A State that saw the establishment of the first residential school of the government in the country at Sarvail village in the combined Nalgonda district way back in 1971 has seen an unbelievable transformation in this sector, particularly after the formation of Telangana.
Today, the newly formed State can boast of the highest State-run residential schools meant for general, backward classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minority and also exclusive institutions for girls and women from school to undergraduation.
When Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao spoke of KG to PG free education in the newly formed Telangana, there were few takers of its possibility and success. The figures, after nine years of the formation of the State, certainly prove that bold decision of his has indeed paid off. A 10-fold increase in schools, students and spending is just a physical aspect, but their success is overwhelming emotion for thousands of parents.
Not just the numbers in terms of institutions and students grew, but also the aspirations of the students from the marginalised communities who started dreaming big with the tools at their disposal in the form of quality education. Though the residential education concept was not new to Telugu students, the sheer number in the new State and the exponential growth makes it further interesting.
The comparison of figures before 2014 when Telangana was part of the combined Andhra Pradesh with those of present-day Telangana showcase the massive transformation of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) students. From a mere 32 schools accommodating 27,564 students, the number has grown to 88 schools with 74,790 students in the tribal welfare schools. The budget allocation saw a massive increase from ₹52.70 crore in 2014 to ₹411.96 crore.
Comparatively, there were a few schools exclusively for the Backward Classes before the bifurcation and now apart from the numbers increasing there is a value addition with exclusive institutions set up for the most marginalised sections among the Backward Classes. In 2014, there were just 19 residential schools for BCs and it has now increased to 294 schools, apart from 14 degree colleges of which two are residential agriculture colleges for women. The budget allocation spiralled from ₹37.7 crore for 7,580 students in 2014, to ₹880.13 crore covering 1,81,880 students.
Institutions for the Scheduled Castes too saw an upper trajectory compared to 2014. From 134 residential schools with a strength of 82,063 in 2014, the numbers increased to 238 schools sheltering 1,55,943 students. Apart from these 30 degree colleges were started with an intake capacity of 25,280 students.
Special focus laid on one of the most marginalised sections, the Muslim community too benefited from the establishment of exclusive residential schools for them. Not a single residential school existed for them before 2014 but now 204 schools are run for them by the Telangana Minorities Residential Educational Institutions Society.
Beacons of hope
What makes these institutions tall today is not mere numbers, but how they have emerged as the beacons of hope lifting a generation out of their poverty and suppressed aspirations. The success stories have been numerous and inspiring. The institutions forced the nation’s attention towards them when Malavath Poorna, a Scheduled Tribe girl, became the youngest girl in the world to summit Mount Everest. Another student Anand Kumar became the first Dalit student to achieve the same.
Their achievements gave the entire social welfare schools fraternity the confidence that they can touch the skies when opportunities come their way. The role of R.S. Praveen Kumar, now BSP state chief and the then Secretary of the institutions, was huge in inspiring the students and also giving wings to Chief Minister KCR’s out-of-the-box approach.