To arrest the trend of child marriage in the locality

Seeking to arrest the trend of child marriage in their community, members of Narikorava Education and Welfare Society (NEWS) are reaching out to parents at Devarayaneri, an exclusive locality for gypsies in Tiruchi district, with the hope that the school education department would upgrade Thiruvalluvar Gurukula Elementary School that the society runs in the locality into a middle school this year.

“Girl students in the locality who drop out of school after elementary education are married off in their early teens. The practice is quite common in the locality. In the last five years, at least 15 marriages of gypsy children would have taken place in the community,” said S. Mahendran, secretary, NEWS.

For upper primary education, students are required to seek admissions in schools at Thuvakudi and Tiruverumbur. But, Narikorava parents are simply not inclined.

They prefer instead to marry off their daughters at the nearest opportunity, in very many cases, even before the girls attain puberty,” Mr. Manoharan said.

At a meeting of well wishers, the school management organised last week, alumna (consisting of Narikorava youth who had dropped out after fifth standard and those who are pursuing college studies), elders of Narikorava community, school teachers, and office bearers of the society called upon the school education department to sanction middle school status at the earliest.

Thanks to the support extended by BHEL Tiruchi under its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, the school now has the requisite infrastructure for seeking middle school status, said Mr. Mahendran. The BHEL dedicated a Rs. 33 lakh building with four classrooms and two rooms for headmaster and the staff to the school last year. In 2008, the BHEL had constructed a building with four classrooms for the school. Mr. Mahendran thanked the management of Femina Hotel for constructing a compound wall for the school in deference to the request made by the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, Tiruchi, Ramalingam, a well wisher. Exhorting the community elders to motivate children to study beyond primary level, the Director of EXIM Group, Muruganandan, one of the special invitees, offered to the education department the financial support of well wishers to meet the cost of salaries of teachers till new posts are sanctioned in the event of upgrading the school with upper primary standards.

Other special invitees consisting of Managing Director of GB Engineering Pattabiraman and the past president of Rotary Club of BHEL City and the society’s legal advisor, Nazeer Ali, requested the school education department to do its part to extricate the community from poverty and poor self esteem. District Elementary Educational Officer V. Jeyakumar said the request would be considered in right earnest. “The file submitted by the society will be processed soon,” he said.