KISS located in Bhubaneswar, India – is a free of cost, fully-residential school for 37,000 indigenous students; this includes a mammoth body of 27,000 current students and over 10,000 alumni. KISS was founded in 1993 by Dr. Achyuta Samanta, with a vision of a world free of hunger, poverty, and illiteracy.
The University empowers its 37,000 students by educating them through a holistic approach involving academia, sports, and vocational training from Kindergarten to Post-Graduation. KISS prioritizes efforts to preserve the varied tribal cultures and languages from over 62 tribes, while simultaneously empowering its students to become Change-makers in their communities. KISS was recently granted ‘Deemed to be University’ status by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, in 2017. It has also been in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations Organization since 2015.
The model of KISS is unique in providing need-based and demand- driven education for indigenous stakeholders as education at KISS is not just empowering the child but a starting point for transformation for family and community. Engaging with a child and his/her family leads to imparting critical skills such as empathy, collaboration, and respect for diversity among the tribal people. KISS does not offer a one-time solution or patchwork – it brings an end to the dire poverty of remote rural households and chalks the pathway for many more institutions of its type to usher in change as a Lighthouse of Hope.
High dropout and low-quality education bedevil the mainstream government schooling. It’s therefore such a sharp relief that KISS Odisha has become a shining model of empowerment for the deprived tribal children. By educating thousands of children, KISS is shaping and creating a cohort of role models for every tribal and remote village in the country. Throughout the process, KISS is addressing two major challenges: Diversity and Inclusion. Students not only learn from teachers but from their peers as well. The KISS model prepares these vulnerable children as empathetic problem solvers by making the classroom an inclusive laboratory for their ideas and aspirations. Mother tongue based multilingual education removes language barriers and life skills as part of the curriculum to build confidence to be self-reliant and active partners of development in the process.
A sense of identity amongst children and their communities for them to co-own and build the movement of creating opportunities for every tribal and disadvantaged child in the country has been spearheaded by the mission of Prof. Achyuta Samanta. KISS provides technical support to 500 Government Residential Schools in Odisha to impart Life Skills based training. There are over 100 District Resource persons, 500 Headmasters, 1500 Government teachers trained under this programme. Thus, KISS reaches the unreached, covering 75 villages in 20 districts of Odisha and imparting Life Skills Education to over 1 lakh adolescent boys and girls.
Thus, at a macro level it addresses the challenge from a cognitive viewpoint. New Mind, New Dream and going back to the village is the mechanism by which 2000 staff and students of KISS, during the summer vacation, enable change through plantation, literacy, and Life Skills Drive.