UNESCO International Literacy Prize 2022 for KISS

KISS Multi-Lingual Lab has become role model for others to emulate


Bhubaneswar : Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar has won the prestigious UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize 2022 for its outstanding literacy programme based on the recommendations of an international jury.

The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize is sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Korea and recognizes contributions to mother language-based literacy development. KISS has received the award in the category of ‘Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education’ programme’.

The prize carries an endowment of US$ 20,000, a medal and a diploma, informed Dr. Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KIIT & KISS in a press get-together here in Bhubaneswar adding the award has come as a national and state pride.

“I thank UNESCO for recognizing our efforts and social innovations in the field of education, literacy and indigenous empowerment. In my childhood, I struggled to get proper education and now I put all my life to provide holistic education to millions at margins as I have realised that education can only make a child complete to take on the challenges of life,” Dr. Samanta said addressing the media here, today.

KISS Vice Chancellor Prof Deepak Kumar Behera, a well-known anthropologist,  said, “the multi-lingual lab was one of the recommendations of the National Education Policy 2020, but it has been implemented at our institution long ago. We have also published an illustrated dictionary to help the indigenous children and their teachers to manage the linguistic challenges during the learning process.’’

“Our education model at KISS, however, being holistic and inclusive in all aspects also ensures to respect the individual cultural identity of each indigenous community members,” the VC added.

CEO and Registrar of KISS Dr Prashant Kumar Routray observed that KISS always ensures sync between the house language and school language through the multi-lingual lab and having student-centric curriculum and keeping the comfort of a homely atmosphere for the indigenous kid.

He also informed that the model of language learning at KISS has now been adopted by the Centre and State Government as the institution has got 35 master trainers and 150 teachers associated with the multi-lingual lab.


The award was presented at a global award ceremony organised by UNESCO in Côte d’Ivoire on 8 and 9 September 2022 to celebrate International Literacy Day. The programme aims to tackle the challenges of poor retention of indigenous students in elementary schools due to classroom language barriers and teachers’ incapacity to deal with multilingual and multicultural classrooms effectively.

Every year, the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes focus on a specific theme. This year, the spotlight was on Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces. KISS is the fifth institute from India and the first from Odisha to receive this international prize. It is also the third among the non-profit NGOs and first indigenous based organisation to be conferred with this award.

KISS, a sister concern of KIIT, the largest institute for the indigenous students in the world, is credited with the adoption of innovative pedagogies as learning tools and bringing about a perceptible change in the socio-economic lives of the indigenous population through education. This recognition also brings the state of Odisha to prominence on the world map for its efforts at changing the education ecosystem. Moreover, it is also a big day of celebration for indigenous communities as it is truly an award for them.

KISS, a not-for-profit organisation, was established in 1992-93 by Dr Samanta to empower the indigenous population through education. It is a fully free residential educational institution that provides holistic education, comprehensive skilling and sports empowerment. The educational initiative at KISS comprises a school, a college and a university founded with the objective of providing food, education and empowerment to indigenous children.

It can be mentioned here that KISS has transformed the lives of 70,000 indigenous children (30,000 children pursuing education and 40,000 alumni) directly and about 700,000 lives in the indigenous communities indirectly. Its higher education wing, KISS Deemed-to-be University is the world’s first university exclusively for indigenous students.

KISS has, in its course of evolution and function, collaborated with various UN agencies and organisations for the implementation of several initiatives related to education and empowerment. KISS has been in special consultative status with ECOSOC since 2015 and is affiliated with UNDPI.

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