Four teachers from a city school went beyond the call of duty: they spent the summer in Dahod teaching English to tribal children. Liffy Thomas meets the quartet

The new academic begins on a high note for four city teachers. Christiana Rathnavathy, Anita Ruban, Buella Maria and Christina Prince feel great about having spent the summer vacation on a worthy cause: teaching English grammar to children of the Bhil tribe, at Dahod in Gujarat.

These teachers are excited about the prospect of sharing this summer experience with colleagues and students on June 10, when their school reopens.

Ms. Christiana has photographs and mementoes from the trip. “There is no electricity. These tribal students walk miles to fetch water. But their dedication to study in immense. We had some students who wanted us to take classes even after 7 p.m.,” says Ms. Christiana who is volunteering in this manner for the second year.

Shalom, a non-governmental organisation helping members of the tribe get education and health care, had sought volunteers through the MCC school management. Two teachers from the State

Board and two from Matriculation campus of the school in Chetpet signed up for the camp.

The 15-day camp set up by the NGO had tribal students of classes X, XI and XII from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Teaching grammar was a challenge as the students did not know the basics. “We had prepared PPTs to teach them but that was way too high for them,” said Ms. Anita, a teacher of English for high school students. Training in spoken English was accompanied by written tests.

The teachers say the time was too short to make the teaching experience comprehensive. Another compliant was the weather: the Chennai summer had not prepared the four for the heat – 48 degree – that prevailed in Dahod. But these minor peeves, and the teachers are elated about what they have achieved.

“We were so happy when they gave the vote of thanks in English,” said Ms. Christiana.

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