Shankhavaram, East Godavari District: During my padayatra in Nellipudi and Shankhavaram villages, I learnt about different kinds of problems. It surprised me that the rulers and officials were ignoring problems which could be easily addressed. Most of these problems were because of the government.
Raja from Chebrolu is from a backward section. He is pursuing his fifth year course at Nuziveedu IIIT. He excels in studies. But tragedy struck him after his close friend committed suicide. He went into depression and couldn’t finish the final year of his education. His parents too got into depression looking at him. They wanted to shift him into another institute so that he could complete his education. But the institute asked him to pay remaining fees of Rs 45,000 and collect the certificates. Is it really possible for the poor to pay such huge amounts? If there had been complete fee reimbursement, this problem could have been avoided.
Abbas Rasool from Shakhavaram completed his Polytechnic course and later finished B Tech from Hyderabad. He received fee reimbursement for just one year which was barely enough. The institute will give his certificates only after he clears his pending fee. Despite finishing their education, the poor are unable to get certificates in hand. Same is the story of Mary, who finished her studies in Basara IIIT and is waiting for certificates. She has been running around to seek help but there has been no response from the government officials.
Yet another tragic story is that of Lakshmi, who belongs to the backward class. Unable to take care of her, she was married off at a young age. After marriage, she wanted to be financially independent and hence joined BSc Nursing. She had to shell out Rs 35,000 extra amount per year, which was a huge burden to their family hence she discontinued her education. My father late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s dream was no poor man should be deprived of education due to financial problems. He helped everyone with this goal in the mind. But unfortunately the fee reimbursement scheme is now dysfunctional. My determination is to bring back the full fee reimbursement scheme and ensure education for all.
Despite rains, people gathered at Shakhavaram in the afternoon to meet me. They walked along with me and told me about their woes under the present TDP rule. Few people belonging to Kapu community met me and thanked me for the promise I made for their community. While Chandrababu got the Kapu agitators, including women arrested, he is now staging a drama that he was concerned about Kapu community welfare, they said.
A young girl Jhansi came to me with a Samrakshana bond in her hand and asked me, “Anna, will I get money from this?” showing the bond paper. The innocent girl is not aware that Chandrababu had shelved the scheme long back. I feel pained when I look at the innocent people and how the government is cheating them. It was unfortunate that the government bonds were made invalid, subsequently not paying the deserving amount to the poor people.
I have a question for the chief minister – You had promised full fee reimbursement during the last elections campaign but after forming the government, you have not delivered. Does this not amount to betraying the poor people? What is the future of those who trusted you, joined colleges, completed studies but are unable to get certificates since there was no fee reimbursement? Is higher education to the poor a mirage? Should the poor forget about finding employment after studies?