Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) is an NGO-cum-Deemed University located in the state of Odisha in India, providing free education from Grade 1 to PhD with vocational and extracurricular training, free lodging and boarding, state-of-the-art pedagogy and facilities for 60,000 indigenous students. Of these, 30,000 students reside at the primary campus in Bhubaneswar, 15,000 at various satellite centers across the State and country, while another 15,000 are now alumni.
In this endeavour, KISS is unique; besides being the world’s first tribal residential university, KISS has also gained special consultative status with the United Nations, and works tirelessly with NGOs, and other global and national organisations to provide various workshops, training camps and opportunities for its ever-growing family of students. Since its humble inception with merely 125 students, KISS has grown to its present strength, representing all 62 tribes of Odisha.
KISS simultaneously empowers tribal communities and preserves their culture and heritage, through founder – Dr. Achyuta Samanta’s – vision of literacy. By providing holistic quality education, food, healthcare and security to all its students, KISS enables tribal communities to understand their rights, thereby protecting them from the influence of forces who could take advantage of their isolation from urban India. In this endeavour, KISS addresses the visions of some of India’s founders such as Nehru and Gandhi, as well as recommendations of some of India’s earliest policies on tribal education, such as the 1960 Dhebar Commission Policy Review and the 1986 National Policy on Education. Central to these visions and recommendations was the importance of promoting higher education for tribal students, while celebrating their rich cultural identity and promoting their creative talent. These ideas form the very core of KISS’ relationship with its students, who are empowered – through quality curricular and extra-curricular education – to become torch-bearers of peace and progress in their communities. Our academic and philanthropic endeavours focus on promoting social sciences and tribal studies within the Indian context.
Through partnership with various UN bodies, and our 20+ years of experience within the development field of Odisha, we strive to propel KISS, and tribal Odisha towards the transformative 2030 Agenda shared by the United Nations. Our outlook and approaches are all geared towards a holistic and integrated approach towards the 2030 Agenda. KISS also prides itself on not only facilitating change with its direct student body, but also through its engagement with tribal communities of Odisha. We regularly host and facilitate trainings, workshops and outreach programmes that integrate tribal communities in more than one way. Instrumental to this approach are the parents & families of our students, our district coordinators, local governance and concerned volunteers and citizens of Odisha.
KISS stands for Gender Equity, Vocational Empowerment and Women’s Empowerment based on the 3E formula of “Enable, Educate and Empower.” The most important principle of the success of this model is the indigenous control of education, where importance is given to preserving the culture, heritage and traditions of tribal communities.