30 students, selected after training in over 20 non-academic disciplines, visit Rashtrapati Bhavan

Among various attempts to expand the boundaries of the present education system, SRV Matriculation Higher Secondary School’s YATRA (Youth Awareness Towards Realisation and Achievements) stands out for two reasons: size and reach. Targeted at class XI students of the school, the project begins as an all-encompassing umbrella that covers over 1,000 students, and narrows down during the academic year into a concentrated pool of 30 students who have been given intensive training in over 20 non-academic disciplines.

“The team of 30 students was shortlisted on the basis of a written test of aptitude and their display of leadership qualities and social concern,” said K. Tulasinathan, principal, SRV Matriculation Higher Secondary School. The third YATRA since the inception of the programme in 2009, the students were taken to New Delhi for a meeting with the President of India, a visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and interactions with a range of administrators and officials.

Devised by the school’s principal and its human resource development wing, the programme begins with two days of intensive training for all class XI students.

The training sessions conducted by qualified resource persons from across Tamil Nadu, covers subjects like administration and politics, science and technology, personality development, communication and team building skills, law and legal rights, political and social movements, media understanding, art and literature, and agriculture among others.

“The students are assessed through a written test after the training and 200 qualify for the next level of the programme,” said M. Roubavady, one of the HRD coordinators. The 200 students are then put through 10 special coaching sessions held across five Saturday evenings. “It is from this group of 200 students that the final 30 students get shortlisted for YATRA,” she adds.

For many among the 30 students, it was their first time on an aircraft and the learning seemed to have begun right from the airport: “It was a different class of travelling, something that demanded a lot of sophistication and discipline,” said Kathir Kishan. Aimed at providing each participating student with at least one takeaway, the trip included personal interactions with present day leaders and hands-on mentoring.

“When we visited the Rashtrapati Bhavan, we saw that the central hall (when not in session) was being used by the members as a cafeteria and a place to interact with MPs of other parties,” recalled S.B. Yashodep, while M. Chitharthan said he liked I.A.S. officer R. Balakrishnan’s view that “institutions are always pure and that corruption was within those who ran the institutions.”

Slated to continue for at least 10 years, Mr. Tulasinathan hopes to equip around 350 student leaders who have been given an opportunity to experience and initiate change in society.