December 2019

Children of the Irular community in Tamil Nadu face many challenges to accessing quality education with 73% of families living below the poverty line, difficulty travelling to government schools, and caste-based discrimination.  In 15 tribal hamlets Assisi Aid Projects’ partner, Integrated Development Trust is funded by Navitas Education Trust to offer daily tuition classes and children’s club activities to children aged six to 15. 

Aarush*, a boy in grade six from the Endathur Hamlet became interested in the children’s club activities and started attending life skills classes this year.  Previously he was not confident at school, and struggled to complete work.  Through attending tuition classes, his confidence has increased, and he now speaks out in class and was excited to take part Children’s Parliament events. The Children's Parliament gives children the opportunity to undertake ministerial roles and discuss issues such as the environment, housing, gender equality and housing that might be debated by the Indian parliament.  By assigning girls and boys senior minister roles, and encouraging children to learn to listen to each other and respect each others' views, gender equality is increased. 

Aarush commented that  “I am happy and able to realise my strengths” following participation in the project.  Aarush’s parents have seen improved changes in his outlook and are pleased that he is participating in the project.


“I am happy and able to realise my strengths”


In communities where 46% of children do not complete school and drop out to join their parents working in the fields or at home, projects like this are critical to support children’s studies and encourage parental support to their ongoing education. The children’s club program focuses on life skills including communication, interpersonal relationships, critical thinking, decision-making and emotional management. 

Older children participate in Children’s Parliament groups, which develop confidence and leadership skills, and model gender equality between girls and boys.  The Children’s Parliaments also represent children’s concerns within their community and have successfully organised events including gender equality rallies and a petition for repairs to an essential water pump in their local village. This year 80% of children in the villages regularly attend classes and participate in the children’s clubs, an increase of 25% from the previous year.

*name changed to protect Aarush's identity