Education of Slum and Rural Children through Coaching Centres

Introduction

    Education is a great asset that empowers people to achieve a better position in life. School education and college education play a very crucial role in the life of a person. But education in India is slowly getting commercialized and becoming costlier and costlier. Though Government-run schools offer education at a very minimal cost, the standard maintained in the schools is very low. Dalits and marginalized people cannot afford to educate their children in private schools. Therefore, their children are not in a position to compete with their counterparts in private schools. Since they secure very low marks, they find it difficult to sit for competitive examinations of any type. Getting a berth in a better college is not within their reach. That is why slum children and poor rural children land up in low paid jobs while children of better off sections of the society grow up to corner high salaried jobs.

    Antenna Trust got interested in empowering the poor children in slums as well as villages to enhance their academic standards through Evening Coaching Centers. The suggestion in fact came from Denis and Yves (Our supporters and Patrons). 6 Evening Coaching Centers were organized in the slums of Madurai and Usilampatti as well as in villages namely Alathur, Maranai and Sholavandan.

Goals

    Empowering the disadvantaged poor children to become educationally capable (knowledge, skills , attitudes and motivation) to compete in the regular school studies.

    Enabling them to gain confidence in appearing for specialized higher studies entrance examinations.


Objectives

  • To facilitate the enrolment of children of school going age in schools and ensuring their retention through monitoring.
  • To offer a standard evening school education for 360 children studying 1st standard to 12th standard to improve their educational standards.
  • To make the students better informed and enable them to be placed in higher ranks in the school and in public examinations.
  • To offer various educational facilities and recreational exposures and to better their curricular and extracurricular knowledge, skills, and attitudes as well as their leadership qualities.
  • To motivate continuously the children to adopt a goal-oriented and focused approach and action for marching towards a better future.
  • To inculcate savings habits among children for the sake of their higher education as well as for their better future.

On Centers, Children and Timings

    6 Evening Coaching Centers are in operation, as of now. Totally, 180 children benefit from the Centres.All these Centres are located in Madurai slums [Simmakkal & Sellur] and in Alathur, Alathur colony, and Anthaneri villages. The children belong to Dalit and most backward communities.

    The centers function at least for two hours in the evening. First, the children complete their homework with the guidance of the teachers. Otherwise, they face the wrath of the teachers when they go to schools without doing the assigned home work. Their parents cannot also do anything about it. Then they study the subjects taught on that particular day at the school. The teachers provide guidance and support to understand the subject and clarify their doubts.. Next, the teacher questions every student on the subjects studied. This is to help them understand and memorize the subjects.

    Every day the students hear different motivational stories, riddles, facts, life stories etc. The aim is to inculcate moral values, will power, inspiration etc.

    Teachers conduct tests every Saturday on certain subjects on the basis of need. These tests prepare them for writing examinations in schools better. Coaching centre students score better marks than they used to get previously. Their rankings too have gone up.

Teachers

    Every centre is being managed by a teacher hailing from the same village/slum and from the same community.

    All the 6 teachers are ladies and Educational qualification of the teachers are

  • Four teachers are post graduates – all of them are working at local schools as teachers.
  • 2 teachers are graduates

Library

    A mini library was set up at each centre. A set of 10 books was distributed first . The books included a dictionary, English conversation books, essay books in Tamil and English, General knowledge books and story books. Children and teachers are using these books.

Free Note books

    With sponsorships and donations Antenna Trust provides free note books to the children in the tuition centers. In 2017, free note books were provided to 125 children belonging to five tuition centers. In 2018, it is being planned to provide free note books to all the children in 6 tuition centers.

Savings and Bank linkage

    An organization called Tamilnadu Foundation (TNF), proposed an interesting savings scheme for children. If a child had a bank account and a deposit of INR.200 in the account, TNF would contribute a deposit of INR.300 against it. Every child should continue to remit at least INR.50 per month into their account. If they did so, then their bank account would be credited with another INR.300. This is a one year scheme and the purpose is to inculcate a habit of savings among children and link them up with bank. If the savings were regular, the students would become eligible to secure educational loans from the bank.

    55 children (who are studying 1st standard to 12th standard) of 5 coaching centers were enabled to get enrolled in this scheme. Later, the TNF has clarified that the scheme was only meant for children studying 9th standard to 12th standard. The process of selecting the next batch of children is underway.

Events and Celebrations

    Tuition centres organize various events while celebrating important days such as birthdays of important leaders, Independence day, Republic day etc. Many competitions like drawing, public speaking (both in English and Tamil), singing, poetry, fancy dress etc., are organized among children. The expenses for these programmes are met through sponsorships from parents and contributions from children .

Summer camp

    The purpose of the Summer camp is to enable their all round growth and development. Children are involved in activities that provide for artistic expressions. Theme-based activities, and rights - oriented events bring out their talents into the open. Cultural programmes become a focus of entertainment and joyful experience to poor and slum children.

    Like in 2016, summer camp was organized in 2017 from 22nd May to 25th May. Originally it was planned to conduct camp for 45 children for three days. But due to overwhelming response from children and their parents, the camp was conducted for 60 children for four days. As in the past, donations were collected from various people for conducting the camp. Antenna contributed the remaining part of the budget.

Children’s Day

    Various kinds of experiences are needed to children to enhance their capacity and emerge as full-fledged adults. But the socio economic condition of Dalit children do not provide the much needed experience to grow into full-fledged citizens. Apart from academic education, they need special opportunities to unleash their hidden talents and skills. This is ensured in the annual event of Children’s Day. It is made sure that every child participated in one to 3 events.

Parents’ meeting

    Every three months Parents meetings are conducted. Mostly mothers participate. Children too are asked to observe the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is :

  • To create better relationship between tuition centre and parents.
  • To review the performance and progress of children.
  • To provide a feedback to teachers
  • To provide an analysis to parents and encourage a discussion on their roles.

Teachers’ meeting

    Every month teachers’ meetings are conducted by the Coordinator. Teachers, supervisors and coordinator attend the meetings. The purpose of the meetings is :

  • To review the performance of each centre in terms of number of working days, attendance, drop outs, timing etc.
  • To share new ideas, methods and approaches the teachers could follow.
  • To review performances of children in terms of their marks scored in tests, exams.
  • To provide an opportunity to teachers to share problems faced .
  • To share the expectations of children and parents from the centre
  • To plan for special programs, if any.
  • To plan for the next month.

Antenna has a very comprehensive outlook towards the programme. It is being planned to extend the programme to more number of slums and villages in the coming days. Separate funds will be mobilized for this.