N. Tamilarasi (28) may have studied only up to class XII but to ensure her son and other children in her village make the best of their schooling years, she has been crossing a river every day, for the past year.

Tamilarasi, one of the 180 teachers who won the ‘Eureka Best Tutor Award’ on Wednesday, wades through hip-deep water to travel from one village to another in Lalgudi to drop her son at a middle school, and teach at the Eureka centre set up there.  

Eureka Child Foundation, along with its partner NGOs, runs an after-school programme for students from classes I to VIII in 600 villages.

Run on the strength of 1,500 village-level tutors from the community, students are taught from a specially-designed skill-training material that allows space for individual attention. 

From weavers and tailors to nurses and postgraduates, these volunteers spend their evenings, and some, even their mornings, crunching numbers and setting goals.

“I carry my seven-year-old son and cross a stretch of the river in the morning. In the evening, he waits for me to finish my class, and we get home before sundown. Every time, my students shout with excitement that the ‘tuition akka’ is here, it makes it worth the effort,” says Ms. Tamilarasi.

The house of S. Deepa, a private school teacher from Pasumathur in Vellore, doubles up as a tuition centre for students of classes VI, VII and VIII, and S. Elizabeth Rani, a resident of Poovalur village, travels to 13 villages thrice a month as a block trainer.

“Bus services to five of these villages are very poor but I visit the centres in all the villages and monitor students’ progress,” she says.

After class XII, Ms. Rani had to discontinue her studies and work to support her family. “At the back of my mind, the thought that I was wasting my education kept nagging me. I am glad I am putting my education to use now,” she says.

V. Vasanthi Devi, president, AID India, V. Ramasubramanian, judge, Madras High Court, Srivats Ram, managing director, Wheels India Limited, Balaji Sampath, secretary, AID India, and director of Ahaguru, A. Ravishankar, director, Eureka Child Foundation, and Badri Seshadri, founder, Kizhakku Pathippagam, were present at the awards function.

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