New school infrastructure to provide a better learning experience for Adivasi children


By GV News Desk

28 November 2022

Mahendra Tanaya Ashram School, a Gram Vikas residential school for Adivasi children in remote Gajapati, gets a new state-of-the-art, 50,000 sq. ft. building. The bigger space can accommodate over 500 students from Classes 3 to 10 and has well-designed, separate, Physics, Chemistry and Biology labs. A new library to promote reading can seat 50 students, and the dining hall can serve 400 students. Designated spaces for children with special needs, dormitories for boys and girls and sports facilities are the other unique features of the new building.

Shri Chandra Shekar Sahoo, the Member of Parliament from the Berhampur constituency, inaugurated the new school building on 16 November. Highlighting the critical role of schools in shaping a prosperous society, he said, “…this school building is really huge. I have never ever seen such a big school in a remote area. The school has really good facilities. Children who study here should make the best use of their chance to study here to enhance their talent.” Students from Gram Vikas High School, Kankia, Gram Vikas Shikshya Niketan, Kalahandi, Gram Vikas Vidya Vihar School, Gayaganda, and students from Mahendra Tanaya Ashram School participated in the cultural programmes.

Shri Joe Madiath, Chairman of Gram Vikas, spoke on occasion and encouraged the students to take advantage of the facilities available in the new school building to learn better. Shri Natabar Padi, Social Activist, Smt. Purnabasi Nayak, Block Chairman of Rayagada, Shri Pitambar Nayak, Zillaparishad Member, Smt. Madhuri Sabar Samiti Sabhya, Smt. Jayanti Sabar, Sarpanch Koinpur, Shri Liby Johnson, Executive Director, Gram Vikas, Shri Antaryami Gamango, Ms Urmila Senapati and Kabita were present at the event.

The school buildings and facilities have been designed to stimulate critical thinking, discussions, collaboration, and peer learning among the children, most first-generation learners.

Shri Sahoo commended the leadership and contributions of Joe Madiath, Gram Vikas Chairman, to bring quality education to Adivasi children. Shri Dasarathy Gamango, a Member of the Odisha Legislative Assembly, praised the facilities, “It is important to have state-of-the-art schools in remote areas for the development of the communities. Since 1992, this school in a remote village like Koinpur has benefitted thousands of first-generation Adivasi boys and girls.”

Shri Lingaraj Panda, the District Collector of Gajapati, shared his excitement, “The infrastructure is beautiful. The architecture and design of the building is really good! This is a mega project in my district.”

Prof. D.N. Rao, Vice President of Centurion University, recalled his days with Gram Vikas as a Project Coordinator in Gajapati. He said, “The school is a beacon of hope for Adivasi communities living in remote areas. Over the past three decades, thousands of Adivasi children were exposed to technology in classrooms and ICT labs, which was otherwise a dream for them.” Advising students to pursue skill development programmes, Prof. Rao promised to provide the necessary support to improve the learning and innovation skills of Adivasi children.

Prakash Chandra Jena, the school Headmaster, highlighted the students’ achievements in academics, arts, sports, and international science competitions, “This year, Mahendra Tanaya Ashram School completed 30 years of nurturing countless students from remote Adivasi villages. The increasing number of students wanting to enrol needed us to have a bigger space to expand opportunities for everyone.”

Gram Vikas set up the Mahendra Tanaya Ashram School in 1992 to exclusively provide quality education to children from remote Adivasi communities in the Mahendragiri area of the Gajapati district in Odisha. It was part of a series of efforts, including non-formal education and adult literacy centres and middle schools, by Gram Vikas to address the literacy and education attainment gap among Adivasi communities.

Over the last three decades, 1000+ first-generation learners from Adivasi communities have completed school from the four Gram Residential schools in Kalahandi, Gajapati and Ganjam districts in Odisha. State-of-the-art STEM and Innovation labs, SMART Classrooms, Creative Labs and trained teachers provide quality education with students winning awards and achieving academic excellence.

The focus on girls has resulted in equal or more girls from communities that have historically had few educated girls completing school.

The new building for Mahendra Tanaya Ashram School in Koinpur

Photograph shared by Jyoti Prasanna Singh


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