The project aims to improve the educational outcomes for 491 rural children through 15 evening tuition centers and also to promote parental participation in child development. The program works with disadvantaged rural children and their parents to create an enabling environment for families to prosper.
The young people participating in this project are mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds whose families include illiterate, unemployed, unwed mothers, widows, and people from dalit and tribal groups. Most of the children are first generation learners, and 66% of adults rely on daily labour for income.
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 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.
15 evening study centers will provide supplementary education to 491 rural children aged 6 to 16. Children spend 2-3 hours, 5 days per week in structured classes facilitated by a qualified tutor.
Tuition classes follow the Government syllabus – plus include supplementary lessons to strengthen children’s skills in arithmetic, reading and comprehension of Tamil and English. The classes use an activity-based style of learning with Assisi Education Materials such as picture cards, posters, maths games and a grading system to track each child’s progress.
Each child’s skill level will be assessed at the beginning of the project year and children who require additional support will be given more attention and care to improve their skills. In addition to the academic work, children will be encouraged to save money in a group savings club. At the end of each year children will exhibit their learning skills in village level celebration events. Children will demonstrate her/his skills in mathematics and reading English sentences with confidence.
The program includes special training for tutors on child rights and child protection to ensure child safety within the evening study centres and in the village.
In addition to the Tuition classes, 15 Children’s clubs will be set up and meet twice per month. The clubs aim to improve leadership skills through child parliament groups, child protection unit, host sporting activities, competitions and monthly cultural programs. The clubs will support children to improve knowledge on child rights, gender, health, life skills, career guidance, environmental education, saving money, public speaking, and support kids to host public advocacy rallies.
The program not only focuses on skill development of children but also works to encourage parental participation and interest in their child’s education and development, as well as set up child protection systems in families and the village.
15 Parents groups will meet monthly to discuss tuition classes and child development. The groups provide an opportunity for project staff to create awareness of child rights, family health, gender equity and the importance of educating the girl child. Fathers will be encouraged to join parents groups and meetings will be scheduled at a convenient time to allow both men and women to attend.
In addition, Parent’s Group members with low incomes will be introduced to an income generation program. In the first year 30 parents will participate and have the opportunity to supplement their family income. We hope that in the future parents can contribute financially towards tutor’s fees.
This year the project has a special focus on child safety in the village. Work will support Parents Group to setup a child protection committee, which includes representation from Village Development Committees, Children’s clubs, youth, village leaders and tutors.
Village Development Committees (VDCs) will be set up to encourage community members to represent village needs to Government and non-government agencies. Volunteers, village leaders, representatives of parent’s groups and child clubs form as VDCs. Along with Parents Groups the VDC will support child safety measures in the village.
While India has enacted universal basic education laws, which has contributed significantly to achieving gender parity in primary education, low female literacy rates (62.98% compared to 80.94 for males aged 15 years and older continues to plague women’s socio-economic progress. (UIS Data 2015)
Girls in rural areas are not given equal importance to boys. Many parents don’t encourage girls to go outside, meet friends or mingle with community members. Tradition holds that after marriage girls will go to another family, but boys will remain in the family and take care for them in old age.
The project will introduce gender equity to Parent’s Groups and children clubs. Small initiatives will be taken to motivate boys and girls to respect each other in group activities, playing together in sports events and sharing responsibilities in children parliament groups. Through family visits and group meetings women and men will be motivated to take joint decisions in their family. Women will be supported with motivational training and business support to achieve political and economic empowerment.
Project staff at IDT will participate in monthly training on topics such as: human rights, gender equality, disability inclusion, counseling skills, child protection, child rights, government support schemes, caste and discrimination.