Juanga School

The Vivekananda Primary School
and High School

Juanga, Odisha, India

In 1999, the largest cyclone to hit India in over 100 years ripped through the coastal region of Odisha for three days. This cyclone was in the same region where CITTA had been running the hospital since 1996, and it destroyed the few small government schools that existed. Odisha, one of the poorest states in India where only 10% of the local population has received any formal education, is already at a disadvantage.

In 2001, CITTA responded to the lack of educational resources in the community by constructing The Vivekananda Primary School. This public school opened with 140 students in KG-1, 2, and 1st and 2nd grades. Now, after 20 years, the school has supported thousands of students and enrolls over 420 students a year, including all classes from KG-1 to 10th.

In 2021, CITTA is expanding the school even further, adding a third floor to accommodate upper-level classes.

The school curriculum includes math, science, social studies, art, music, ethics, Oriya, English, Hindi, and Sanskrit. On Saturdays, the entire student body gathers under the canopy of the school’s banyan tree for their yoga class.

One of our Class 10 students is Biswajit Lenka. His father passed away in 2017. He now lives with his mother and sister. Biswajit’s mother works by sewing and tending to domestic cows and sheep. The family does not have a stable concrete home or land to farm. Biswajit works along with his study to support his mother in their unstable conditions. He is devoted to becoming a science teacher.

The majority of the students like Biswajit come from families who rely on subsistence farming and fall well below the poverty line established by the Indian government living on less than $2 per day. 

The students show great enthusiasm for their education and travel to the school from many local villages as far away as five miles by foot or bicycle. The school offers underprivileged children, both boys and girls (the latter of whom were previously kept home), the only opportunity for an education in the area.

Juanga students have consistently received top scores on state-level exams making the Vivekananda High School one of the highest-ranking schools in the district. 

“There was a debate competition at our school, and I was not interested in participating, but one teacher pressed me and told me I had the ability to participate. I took her advice and got third place in the competition. From then on, I knew that I had the ability to deliver speeches.”

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