Children in rural Tamil Nadu have few opportunities for quality education, personal development, and future employment. Many children in these remote areas are from disadvantaged backgrounds and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (groups recognised by the Government of India as those facing the greatest disadvantage). Whilst many of the children attend school, they require additional education and extracurricular support to maximise their basic education.

The project works with rural and tribal communities to improve education, provide safe activity clubs and promote gender equity.  With our implementing partner, Integrated Development Trust, we recognise the importance of engaging parents and the broader community in improving children’s development so the project works with various community groups, provides training for parents, and gives parents opportunities to engage in their children’s education.

The project works with 777 children aged six to 16 across 30 villages. Each of the villages runs a study centre, children’s club, Children’s Parliament, and parents; group.

The evening study centres provide education to 777 rural children aged six to 16. Children spend two hours, five days per week in structured classes facilitated by a qualified tutor. Classes follow the government syllabus strengthening children’s skills in maths, Tamil and English.

Children’s clubs meet fortnightly to improve leadership skills through sporting activities, competitions and cultural programs. The clubs support children to learn about child rights, gender, health, life skills, career guidance, environmental education, saving money, and public speaking.

Children’s Parliaments meet to enhance leadership skills, encourage girls and boys to respect each other as leaders, and discuss issues that affect them and their communities. They discuss health, the importance of education, child rights, gender equality, and leadership.

Parents’ groups meet monthly to discuss tuition, child development, child rights, family health, gender equity and the importance of educating girls. Child Protection Committees lead child protection training and discuss child safety.

Children’s education outcomes have significantly improved with average exam results increasing from 40% to 60% in key subjects over one year. The change in attitudes of parents is also significant, with 97% giving increased importance to their children’s education.

There have been noticeable changes in gender relationships between girls and boys, and improved recognition of gender equality by parents. The number of girls taking up a leadership role in the Children’s’ Parliaments has increased as girls are equipped with skills in leadership, communication, and teamwork.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program and the Navitas Education Trust.