In partnership with Tamil Nadu Foundation, Kalanjiyam Trust has been implementing a pilot project for strengthening rural schools and reducing school drop outs in rural areas. While many efforts have been successfully implemented in Tamil Nadu leading to good enrollment rates in primary, drop out rates in rural areas continue to persist, and many a Panchayat Union Schools are challenged due to lack of resources leading to low enrollment and even closures. To address these issues the TNF project has been working with Panchayat Union Schools for strengthening the school environment so that the quality of education imparted to students can be improved. The TNF project being implemented in two Panchayats in Maduranthakam Block of Kancheepuram district covers six Panchayat Union Primary Schools in six project adopted villages: Zameen Endathur, Maruvalam, Ozhavetti, Kizhakaandai, Melakaandai and Athivakkam. The main objectives of this project are to ensure zero drop-out in the adopted Panchayat Union Primary schools and strengthen the quality of education provided.
This project is unique in that our approach to implementation involves a process that actively engages key community stakeholders such as Panchayat elected leaders, School officials, local administrative officers, parents and others, so that there is better ownership for long term sustainability.
The TNF project has taken a multi-pronged approach for strengthening the adopted schools and education imparted by improving infrastructural facilities, brining electricity, fans and lights where there was none earlier, appointing separate instructors for teaching students basics of computer operations, music and drawing for developing children’s creative potentials and Yoga for better health. The TNF project equips each adopted school with comprehensive play materials so that children can engage in physical activities regularly in school. A local young woman is placed in each project school and provides support to the school teachers. In addition health and hygiene issues are addressed by making provisions for a proper water source, building toilets and brining about behavior changes among students and teachers for promoting healthy practices, such as hand washing, wearing slippers etc. Nutritional status of the children is an important part of the intervention; every child in the project schools is provided a monthly supply of a nutritious mixture, ‘sathu mavu’. Parents of children are requested to come to school and collect their children’s monthly supply of ‘sathu mavu’ thereby eliciting their active engagement in their children’s health and education.
Mr. Sashikumar and Mr. Nandagopal
‘My schools were really lacking many of the basic facilities. These needs were not full-filled by us, but by the TNF Kalanjiyam project. We learned from them how a school should be.’
‘There is a 100% change in enrollment after this project; we have no problem in any of our schools this year, from discipline to regularity to school. This project has done what the government is not able to do, since the project involves regular follow and monitoring.’
‘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.’
‘Before the project started in this school there were insufficient equipments in the school. The environment was not entirely bad previously, but the project has made changes that have placed the school at a higher level, like a convent school.’
‘When we tell others about what is happening in our school, they are amazed and happy to hear about it and this makes us happy. We thank the project for these efforts. We have one request, for a compound wall on one side, as there is wall on the other three sides of the school.’
‘I really like coming to our school. The aunty from TNF project tell us to come neatly to school, oil and comb our hair, brush our teeth, bathe regularly and to wear slippers; she also checks if we are coming to school everyday.’
‘Learning yoga helps us to strengthen our mind, makes us energetic and to be more relaxed; we can be more healthy and happy. Before this year, I was a dull student and did not study well and did not know many things.’
‘When we enter the school classroom now, it looks very good and neat. Before when we entered the classroom it used to be very noisy; but now, when we go there we see that the children are sitting in a very organized manner in the class and there seems to be more discipline among them.’
‘The TNF project is giving our children sathu mavu in school and our children are taking this regularly as they like it a lot. I will make all efforts to educate my children as per their wish and am ready to do anything to realize their dreams.’
Over the course of the year we measured 10 indicators such as regularity to school, communication, cooperation, mental ability etc. For all indicators there was an increase in proportion that scored very good and excellent at the end of the year; a small proportion of children continued to score as good but none scored below this.
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