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A glimmer of hope for children of migrant labourers

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Privileged: A class room at P U Elementary School, Periyavettuvanpalayam.
Privileged: A class room at P U Elementary School, Periyavettuvanpalayam.

Karthik Madhavan

Panchayat Union school wins best elementary school award

PERUNDURAI: A rectangular tile-roofed building with a compound wall in the centre of Periyavettuvapalayam village in Perundurai Union is an example belying common perception of Government-run schools.

Disciplined

There is no semblance of a school in the building, for it is so clean, quite and disciplined that it takes a while to believe that 74 students between five and 10 years have their education there.

That the School board is a give away is a different matter.

The second sight, also a reason for disbelief, is a row of neatly arranged footwear.

Block Resource Teacher-Educator P. Ramathilagam, in-charge of about a dozen schools, says each of the 74 students has been allotted an area to remove the footwear and the students use only the space.

Footwear arrangement

The care shown by the school management towards footwear arrangement does not end there; it is, in fact, more of a pointer to what is to come in academics.

That the students of Class One read Tamil fluently and Class Four English with ease, the School has won the ‘Best Elementary School Award’ from the district administration, and the savings of 48 students under Sanjayika students’ savings scheme amount to 70,446 are proof enough of the dedication of the faculty.

Considering the facts that Periyavettuvapalayam is a small hamlet, a good number of students come from underprivileged sections of the society and a few of the students are children of migrant labourers, the dedication is quite singular.

Sarva Siksha Abiyan

Take for example the cases of Gulabsha, Rani and Feroz Khan. The three are in the school under the Alternative, Innovative Education component of Sarva Siksha Abiyan (SSA) for out of schoolstudents.

Children of migrant labourers from Bihar, the young ones were until recently out of school before J. Santhi, assistant teacher, brought them to the School. Hardly a few months’ into schooling, the students read and write good Tamil.

Gulabsha, in particular, is brilliant.

The girl is quite good in reading and writing Tamil and also in understanding. With the newly forming front teeth she enthusiastically answers all her teacher’s questions.

Ms. Santhi says she brought the students to the School after learning about the presence of new children of school-going age in the locality. “Though I found it difficult to communicate with the children’s mothers to send them to school, I somehow managed it.”

Sign language

At first the teaching was mostly through sign language, which later turned regular as the students picked up words.

Today, the students have reached a stage where any visitor is greeted with a ‘vanakkamaiya’.

Same is true of S. Krishnan, son of another migrant worker from Nagercoil.

In addition to the above, the school has a few more feathers to its cap.

Head Master C. Ramamoorthi says the school has the distinction of having the maximum number of patrons.

Dedication

“With 180 patrons, each of who have donated Rs. 1,000, the school stands first among the elementary schools in the State.” The teachers’ dedications have been matched equally by that of the villagers’, who through the village education committee and parent-teachers’ association have provided all that a school could ask for.

Not only that the alumni too has chipped in with their bit. Of the three computers, the alumni has provided one worth over Rs. 30,000.

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