With Covid-19 casualties on the rise with each passing day, there is also an increase in the number of children losing their parents to the deadly virus.
Children who have lost one or both parents due to Covid-19 are now under the care of relatives, friends of their parents or under Balamandirs of Women and Child Welfare Committee. But Karnataka is yet to frame guidelines for the safety and care of these children.
Meanwhile, a prominent group of institutions called JSS has offered to provide free education to all kids orphaned due to Covid-19. They have also agreed to provide boarding facilities to such children if need be.
Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara group of institutions, famously known as JSS, is a group of over 327 institutions across the globe. Based out of Suttur, near Mysuru in Karnataka, it is managed by a committee comprising education experts or executive officers in the past. The group owns a chain of educational institutions from kindergarten to university in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Noida, Ooty, the US, Dubai and various other places.
Students from different corners of the world, study science, arts, nursing, medicine, engineering, naturopathy, business, pharmacy, polytechnic and others. They also have institutions for specially-abled kids catering to their specific needs. Owned by Jagadguru Sri Veerasimhasana Mahasamsthana Math of Suttur, it started from a small hostel in 1928 by the then seer Sri Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamiji.
Current pontiff Sri Shivarantri Deshikendra Swamiji leads the Mutt. Being a highly educated man himself, he has given importance to various branches of education and spread the institutions across borders.
“Lakhs of students study in these institutions and a few more kids who are affected by these unprecedented circumstances are not a burden for us,” says Dr C G Betsurmath, Executive Secretary at JSS Mahavidyapeeta. He is a retired KAS officer and oversees the management of institutions and related facilities.
“We have now received around 150 applications through the mail and on WhatsApp. There are instances where children have lost both parents, in some cases one parent is alive but unable to take care of the child. In a few other cases, the caretakers are either old or poor or both and find it difficult to take responsibility for the child. With various kinds of applications, we will examine each one and take the necessary decisions. As of now, we will take in children from 1 to 10th standard and provide free food and education until 10th standard. After that, if the child excels in studies and wants to continue further, we would gladly help him/her get into any of our institutions under a special category,” he added.
Applications are pouring in from all parts of the State and the team in JSS is trying to sort the genuine ones.
Meanwhile, there is another concern by the Child Rights Trust.
Nagasimha G Rao, director of the trust says, “the initiative by JSS group is definitely welcome. But every child should go through Child Welfare Committee only.
People shouldn’t take drastic steps in this issue out of emotional flow, as this might just encourage child trafficking”. JSS can take responsibility for these kids and it is a welcome step given the good quality of education JSS provides. But the interference of CWC is a must for the well-being of the children and the institution as well, he stresses.