The famed Raj Kumar College (RKC) here, founded and run by the erstwhile royal families of eastern India, has shed its century-old elitist legacy by opening its gates to the poor this year, thanks to the revolutionary Right to Education (RTE) Act.
The RKC, conceived by the chief commissioner of Central Province headquartered at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, Sir Andrew Fraser, in 1882 to teach the scions of erstwhile royal families of now Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand, apparently to produce an English-speaking elite class to deal with British officers, has consented to admit to the nursery class six children from BPL families in the current academic year.
“This is a historic move for the 120-year-old institution. We have decided to take six poor children in nursery in the current academic season, breaking a century-old tradition of catering to the education needs of wards of the rich and elite only,” G.B. Singh, RKC principal and scion of the erstwhile Khairagarh royal family, told this newspaper here on Thursday.
The RKC, billed as an iconic educational institute in this part of the country, first breached its legacy of restricting admission to scions of rulers of formerly princely states in 1947 by looking beyond blue blood while scouting for students. “We have forwarded the names of six children belonging to BPL families to RKC authorities for admission to nursery as per the RTE Act,” Raipur district education officer Ashok Chavera told this newspaper. RKC normally charges Rs 1 lakh per annum for a student in nursery class. But the children of BPL families will get education at heavily subsidised fees, as per provisions of the RTE Act.
The institution started in Jabalpur in 1882 with only five students. It was shifted to Raipur in 1894, where it grew into a full-fledged residential school over 125 acres built with generous funding by the ex-rulers of Rajnandgaon estate.
RKC runs classes from nursery to Class 12. The products of the institution include some state and Union ministers and civil servants.