July 2019.

Children living in the Irular community in Tamil Nadu have and continue to face many barriers to completing their schooling, with 46% dropping out early to work. Historically it has been difficult for girls to pursue higher education in rural Kanchipuram, as they often need to work to help their parents due to poverty.  Frequently first generation learners, this can mean girls frequently fall behind and fail to complete their studies.

By engaging parents and community members through Parents Groups and Village Development Committees, and by employing women as the children’s class tutors, the project aims to transform community attitudes towards girls' education. Faiza* lives in the Nevoy Hamlet and is currently in year seven. Prior to joining the children’s program, she was unsure about completing her schooling. A community facilitator worked with Faiza’s tutor to encourage her family to support her education through family visits and attendance at monthly parents’ meetings.  Faiza is now an active participant within the program, having become involved in the savings clubs, Children’s Parliament and life skills classes, in addition to consistently attending the evening study centre.

Tuition classes support the children in reaching required proficiencies to move to the next grade at the end of the year, develop their confidence and encourages them to remain in school. Assisi Aid Projects acknowledges the significant role parents have in supporting their child’s education and works to foster this encouragement. Faiza's academic scores have improved since attending the evening study centre and she and her parents are happy with her studies.  She was very proud to recently participate in a state level children's parliament event - something she never imagined before joining the project.

The Irular tribes face high levels of poverty with 73% living below the poverty line, impacted by low-paid labouring jobs and low literacy rates.  Assisi Aid Projects, together with Navitas Education Trust are working to improve educational provision in these communities towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal that all children complete free primary and secondary education by 2030. Tuition classes have significantly enhanced children’s school performance throughout Tamil Nadu. Many students have improved grades in maths, Tamil and English. 

*name changed to protect Faiza's identity