Thanks to the gesture of philanthropists, about 150 children, most of them from Narikurava community, in the Thiruvalluvar Elementary School at Devarayaneri hamlet of Tirunedunkulam panchayat feel encouraged to focus on academic progress.
The latest donor was T.Ramalingam, Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Tiruchi, who provided the children with uniforms, study materials and gave a commitment to adopt the school for sustaining the help. Mr.Ramalingam, a native of neighbouring Ariyalur district who had come up the hard way was prompted by a report in The Hindu earlier this year describing the travails that a progressive Narikurava couple Mahendran and Seetha has been facing to run the school against odds. Mr.Ramalingam gave away the uniforms and other materials in the presence of the couple, panchayat president N.Karnan, and Narikorava Educational and Welfare Society (NEWS) Treasurer Shanthi.
Seventy five per cent of the children in the school belong to the Narikurava community. About 50 stay in the hostel run under the State government’s support scheme for backward castes. Since the Narikuravas are prone to migration, many from other districts have also admitted their children in the hostel.
The NEWS run by Mr.Mahendran manages the school, and mobilises funds for paying three of the five teachers. Though a government-aided school, there are only two sanctioned teacher posts in the school.
Plea for upgradation
The couple is leaving no stone unturned to get the school upgraded with upper primary sections. After elementary education, students have to go to Tiruverumbur and Thuvakudi. Infrastructure in the school is not a problem after the BHEL Tiruchi dedicated a new building worth Rs.33 lakh to the school. Under Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, the BHEL had already provided a building with four classrooms in 2008. The school qualifies for upgrade as there are no upper primary schools in a radius of five kilometres, Mr. Mahendran said.
Only in the recent years students who had studied in the school have progressed to higher education. But, none has secured salaried employment in government service so far. Mr. Mahendran hopes that the situation will change once they are accorded the Scheduled Tribe status. “The State government has already recommended the case of Narikuravas to the Central government.”