Kizhakaandai Panchayat Leader – Mr. Nandagopal

My Panchayat is a very poor with majority of families living below the poverty line.  The constitution of my Panchayat is 92% SC, 2 to 3% SC, and ½% ST, remainder others.  I get very little revenue income from the government to address the needs in my villages. In fact I am not able to cover even 60% of requirement of the Panchayat.  I met the Director of Kalanjiyam and requested that our villages and schools have a lot of need and that they should adopt our villages and schools.  In 2007 they started working in one of my villages, Dharmapuram and since then, many good things have happened there.’

‘In 2009, the Kalanjiyam project has adopted three of the schools in our villages.  It is nearly one year since the project has been instituted now, but even six months after start of the effort, I was called by the additional collector of Kancheepuram. He asked me to provide computers etc in our schools.  At that time I had informed him that we are not even able to provide the electricity for the schools, as we had received orders from Collectorate that we are not to pay the school’s basic electricity bills, as it was only to be paid by the school. Since they are not even able to do this, how then will they be able to pay for any additional electricity charges or other Information technologies that will cost more?  He immediately said that we needed to identify other donors to sponsor these.  I immediately told him, even before you have asked us this, all the facilities have been done in our school by Kalanjiyam and that they have provided computers in all three of our village schools and also helped us to secure an additional computer through Nammakku Namme Thittam scheme, and in the process of making one our schools into a model school in our area.   He very much appreciated these efforts. We are very fortunate to have this support for clearly I am not able to do all this for my Panchayat.  I have visibly seen the changes, since the implementation of these efforts.’

On Enrollment

In Kizhakaandai village, the student strength has increased in the school.   All of this is due to the facilities such as computer classes, drawing classes and other extracurricular activities.  In fact, enrollment in all the schools in our Panchayat has increased this year.’

Changes in Children

‘The children are now coming to school out of their own interest, which is a major shift in their attitude.  The changes that we see in the children are that they come to school on time, as they are taught about discipline; they dress neatly wearing their uniforms, name / ID badges, slippers etc. These are things that one generally does not see in a village school, which almost make it like a convent school.’

‘Sometimes I go for surprise visits to the schools ask the children how they like the school, and the response we get now indicates that they are indeed having a better environment in the school.  If things continue in this fashion, I am sure that our enrollment figures will definitely increase next year.  Our children are beginning to speak in English, which we are very proud of. Once these children have an interest in school and learning, I am confident, that 90% of them will continue and complete school successfully.  I see the children talk to me briskly and with interest. I did not expect this kind of change since last year.’

Changes in Teachers

‘The teachers are now seeing and learning computers, they are making more efforts to ensure that they are in school on time and are even getting interested in learning computers so that they too can teach their children. But more than teachers, we see the change in the children, they come regularly more than they did before, that is the significant change we have seen.’

Changes in Parents

‘Parents have also changed.  They are now coming to the schools and are making sure that they send their children to school.’

Reasons for success

‘As I see it Kalanjiyam Trust has generated interest in coming to school through their programs, staff taking an interest in the children and encouraging them a lot.  As a community, we have not done this before, or taken such efforts for our children.  None of the schools in this area, be it even the private schools, are providing access to computers for primary school children.  Even today most school children in our parts are only seeing and being exposed to computer operations in 10th or 11th standard, whereas our village primary school children are getting learning this early. This is a great achievement for them.   The government has brought computers to many urban schools, but our villages which are among the lowest tier of Panchayats in terms of economic situation, are more likely to be the last to get such government schemes implemented. Prior to Kalanjiyam’s efforts, none of the three schools in our Panchayat had electricity, only after these efforts started, we got electricity for the school, with their facilitation and coordination.   The community has a lot of trust for this team and they are really cooperating with them to implement these programs.’

Suggestions for Future

‘Kalanjiyam Trust should also adopt a high school in our area and implement similar programs; this would make sure that when these children leave from 5th, they will be able to go to a school where they can continue to benefit from the similar programs and facilities that is more likely to ensure that our children are assured quality education.’