Their parents can barely support their education now, but in three weeks these 14 students will be flying to London to study a semester in top U.K. universities.
The students, 13 of whom are women, have been selected as part of the State government’s all-expenses paid ‘study abroad’ programme — supported by the British Council India — targeting high performers in 59 government colleges across the State.
On Tuesday, after a meeting with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the students were taken to various malls in the city to shop for woollen clothing. “They got me jerkins, coats, and heavy shoes and stockings. I never thought I would own such clothes” said T. Jenesha, an M.Sc. mathematics student from Presidency College.
Despite scoring 88 per cent in class XII, Jenesha had to give up her dream of studying engineering because her father, a seller of tender coconut water, did not earn enough to support her education. “I am looking forward to meeting professors of number theory and cryptography — my favourite topics,” said the student who takes tuitions for school children to support her brother’s education. “My biggest worry was who will teach these 30 children while I was away. Thankfully, a friend has agreed to take regular classes for them.”
Son of a bus conductor, K.S. Anbarasu, the lone male among those selected, could not speak English fluently until he entered college. “I made sure I took Cambridge Business English tests regularly,” said the student of Zoology in Coimbatore Government Arts College.
The students’ parents, many of whom earn less than Rs. 200 a day, were elated. K. Ravi, a Tirupur loom worker, whose daughter Vanithamani, a student of Government College, Udumalpet, is ready to fly soon, said, “My wife and I have been working in looms for over 40 years. I am glad we made the decision to educate our daughter.”