S. S. Kavitha
It is functioning without regular staff
MADURAI: M. Malaiarasi, a young widow of Ramanathapuram district, and of her ilk, see a ray of hope amid smoke that emanates from the kitchen of Government Service Home Higher Secondary School at Uthangudi near here. This facility, run by the Social Welfare Department, offers free boarding and lodging for women, especially widows and destitute.
These girls and women are in some form of destitution either as an orphan or a widow. For such women, the home serves as a haven. Since it came into existence in 2004, it is functioning successfully without regular staff members, including teachers and instructors. Matrons and helpers are appointed on deputation.
The school had been producing centum results both in SSLC and Plus Two board examinations and tailoring examinations, said N. Chandrasekeran, postgraduate teacher for commerce, and added that “we send only one or two students anyway.”
Another matter of concern, he said, was that though the Government’s sanctioned strength was 170, the school had only 32 inmates in total with one student each for standard IX and X.
Here, women in the age group of 18-40 years can join any of the vocational courses, besides regular classes starting from ninth standard. At the Plus Two level, the school offers commerce, accountancy and auditing, along with Tamil and English. It also offers one-year tailoring and six-month-long computer courses. Another unique feature of the home is that it provides space for children below 10 years along with their mothers.
At the end of the tailoring course, all women were given free tailoring machines and they stood a good chance of getting into teacher training or nursing course or a government job as three per cent of appointment in government sector under the general category was reserved for them, said Mr. Chandrasekeran.
No gas facility
The Sevai Illam, where the school is located, uses only firewood for cooking. The home that functions from a rented building has only five bathrooms for the 32 inmates.
Concurring with the inadequacies prevailing in the home, District Social Welfare Officer M. Jeyalakshmi said that they had applied for gas connection and hoped to get it soon.
“We need more facilities as the Government has relaxed the age limit for admission. There is every possibility of increasing the number of inmates,” she said.
Lack of medical facility was another cause of concern as the home was meant exclusively for women, said A. Vijayalakshmi, senior matron.
With all its shortcomings, the school has been successfully helping girls and women to pursue their dreams and carve a niche for themselves.
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