India – Children’s Project

Support for disadvantaged children

Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu 

The project will improve the livelihoods of 640 young people aged between 12-16 years in 20 villages in Uthiramerur block, Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, India through an integrated health, education and life skills program.

It is estimated that close to 657 students will participate in this project that aims to improve basic education, including literacy skills; health and hygiene behaviours, education on gender equity and improved livelihoods through training on financial management, life-skills and Leadership skills.

The young people participating in this project are mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds whose families include illiterate, unemployed and chronically ill parents, unwed mothers, widows, orphans being cared for by extended family, and people from dalit and tribal groups.

Kanchipuram District is mostly comprised of tribal villages in which an estimated 40% of adults are illiterate. Whilst most of the children in this district attend school, it is widely recognized that they require additional education, health and extracurricular support to maximise their basic education. The project will be implemented by Assisi’s India partner, Assisi Farm & Training Centre (AF&TC) with the Integrated Development Trust (IDT) based in Vadanallor. Over the past decade IDT has worked in the Vadanallor area to establish and support women’s self-help groups. These groups are now largely self-reliant. IDT has identified that disadvantaged children now require support.

The project is comprised of six key strategies:

  1. The establishment of Children’s Parliament groups (of 12-15 children) through which they will receive training on child rights. “Leaders” from within the group will be elected and receive training and support to improve their leadership skills.
  2. Training on financial management to encourage saving money.
  3. Gender clubs will be initiated in all children parliaments to ensure the gender awareness ( 29 clubs )
  4. Supplementary education tutoring to support the attainment of basic education, careers guidance and interaction with families. Regular interaction with families will occur to ensure that families are engaged with the program and understand the benefits for them and their children.
  5. Support services in health care, nutrition and life-skills.
  6. Integrated Environment Education through nutritional family garden activities, rallies and formation of eco-clubs in each parliament (29 existing parliament groups).

Key project activities include: establishing Children’s Parliaments in twenty villages/ gram panchayat where the children learn about child rights and democracy; gender equity, participate in a savings scheme; receive education support such as additional tuition, engagement in formal education opportunities; health and nutrition services; life-skills training, such as time management, assertiveness, leadership skills, communications skills, and inter-personal relationships. Promotion of environment education through nutritional family garden activities and awareness rallies.

IDT, through AF&TC, will establish a coordination structure that will be responsible for training, monitoring and supporting the tutors. Both program partners have extensive experience working within disadvantaged communities in this area. It is anticipated, that within the period Assisi is engaged in this project, AF&TC and IDT will explore all viable options to fund the ongoing costs of the project. In the case that the communities are not in a financial position to contribute to the cost of the tutors AF&TC and IDT will continue to support these costs through alternative funding opportunities such as grants, fundraising within India and alternative funding arrangements with Assisi in Australia.

Above: Ms Ambia, aged 10, has low vision. The project Animator, advised her Mother to send her to the clinic for an eye test. Ambia now has glasses and is finally learning to read. When asked ‘what has changed for her’ Ambia said, “ I can now see super!” Her Mother said she is very proud of her daughter.

Above, a tuition class in session. This project supports 20 tuition groups with a total of 657 children. as well as 29 children’s parliaments. The groups discuss topics such as child rights, gender equality, health, hygiene, saving money, effective study practice, leadership and public speaking, organic kitchen gardens, water quality.