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KISS: Where Dreams Take Wings

--News Direct--

September 8 was unlike any other day for the students of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) in Bhubaneswar, India. There was a discernible excitement among the students since morning. For, they had been informed to collect at the campus playground for a special announcement.

KISS was more than an institute for these indigenous students coming from remote and far-flung areas. It held a special place for them. KISS was a destination of hope, a place which gave them a sense of liberation from despair and a home where they could discover their identities.

As the clock struck 5 in the evening, Dr Achyuta Samanta, educationist and founder of KISS, joined the students at the playground along with the teachers. “My dear students, you would be delighted to know that KISS has won the UNESCO Literacy Prize for 2022. My congratulations to you all and to the teachers and staff who have made this possible. This is the highest honour that this institute can get. It cannot get sweeter than this,” he declared in his inimitable style as the crowd burst into celebration.

The award was presented at a global award ceremony organised by UNESCO in Côte d’Ivoire on September 8 on the occasion of International Literacy Day and was received by a key functionary of the institute.

The evening of September 8 went down as a momentous occasion for the institute, a historic day for KISS that has redefined education imparted to the indigenous students in the State of Odisha and in other parts of India that are dominated by the indigenous population. Today it has transformed into the largest institute for indigenous students in the world.

The prestigious UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize 2022 was conferred upon KISS for its outstanding literacy programme. The institute was nominated following the recommendations of an international jury.

The Prize was sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Korea in recognition of the contributions to mother language-based literacy development. KISS received the award in the category of ‘Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education’ programme’. It carried an endowment of US$ 20,000, a medal and a diploma.

The Visionary: Dr Achyuta Samanta

Along with the students, the UNESCO honour was a big moment as well for Dr Samanta. The emotion associated with it was ineffable. Years ago, he had dreamt to build an institute that could impart education to unprivileged children who remained separated from the mainstream, ignorant and disengaged. His unwavering determination to work for their cause had developed from his early days spent in abject poverty. He had seen from close quarters how poverty consumes people into a state of hopelessness. He could realise that education held the only hope to succeed in life. He proved it to himself and decided to set up KISS to offer education to the indigenous population for their social uplift. The indigenous groups constitute about 28 per cent of Odisha’s total population.

It was Dr Samanta’s untiring effort and emphasis on quality that KISS was conferred the status of a Deemed-to-be-University by Govt of India. It offers free education, boarding and other supporting infrastructure for the holistic development of the children. It offers education from Kinder Garten to Post Graduate and PhD levels. The institute is home to 40,000 students while 30,000 have passed out since its establishment in 1992-93. In 2007, the Rugby Team of KISS won the Junior Rugby World Cup in England. In the field of sports, it has produced Olympians and Commonwealth Games medallists who have brought laurels to the country. It has gained the unique reputation of being a veritable sports hub in Odisha.

Multilingual Education Programme

As KISS saw appreciable enrolment, it began to offer education in mother tongue, respecting the indigenous people’s diversity and ethnicity. This was a small beginning yet revolutionary step in empowering and educating the indigenous kids. The institute adopted the Multilingual Education Programme in 2013 through an innovation sandbox approach to address the challenge of poor retention of indigenous students in elementary schools due to classroom language barriers and teachers' incapacity. The programme was implemented through a hybrid format with face-to-face and distance learning modules using low-tech solutions such as television, radio, and text messaging.

The remarkable success of the programme was reflected by the fact that not only the KISS movement brought a perceptible change in the life of the indigenous population, but it has also helped in bringing back misguided youths who had joined the Left-Wing Extremism and taken up arms against the State.

KISS has in its course of evolution and function, collaborated with various UN agencies and organs for the implementation of several initiatives related to education and empowerment. KISS has been in special consultative status with ECOSOC since 2015 and is affiliated with UNDPI.

About KIIT:

KISS is the constituent of KIIT, a Deemed-To-Be-University offering technical education in various verticals. The institute was founded in the early 1990s by Dr Samanta to offer quality technical education to students. The sprawling campus is now a veritable melting pot of nationalists, cultures and ethnicities and has the largest number of foreign students on any campus in Eastern India. The campus stands out for a fusion of unique architectures that represents the distinctiveness of the 23 individual Schools, offering courses in almost all engineering disciplines, besides medicine, management, rural management, law, architecture, biotechnology, fashion technology and other domains.

The University boasts of countless talents who not only are celebrated names in their respective domains but are also contributing to the nation’s growth as successful bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and start-up leaders.

The Education Ministry’s NIRF 2022 placed KIIT the 20th best university in the country, awarding high scores in parameters such as teaching, learning resources and graduation outcome. In the ‘outreach and inclusivity parameter’, the university got a score of 77.86. KIIT continues to innovate professional education in the country and set benchmarks in teaching, pedagogies and research outputs.

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