Teaching under the streetlight in Tiruchi's Ariyamangalam

Gomathi teaches students under streetlight at Srinivasa Nagar near Ariyamangalam in Tiruchi.  

A woman who aspired to be teacher is fulfilling her dreams by conducting free tuition classes for poor students at Srinivasa Nagar near Ariyamangalam in Tiruchi.

J. Gomathi, who works in the accounts department at Periyar EVR College was approached by an NGO in 2003 to teach students in the area. ‘My relative turned down the offer and I grabbed it. At that time, the NGO provided a reasonable stipend and rented a building where classes for nearly 150 students were held,’ she says.

Each student paid ₹1 until recently when the NGO withdrew support. ‘They asked me to start charging the students for the classes to pay the rent. I did not want to do that as only students who could not afford expensive tuition classes came here,’ she says.

Soon, the owner of the building where the classes were being held asked that the class be shifted out. After moving in and out of three to four small buildings, which could not accommodate all students, the class was shifted to the street. For the last six months, the stipend has been withdrawn. ‘Since then, I stopped charging the students for the classes,’ Ms. Gomathi says.

The classes are conducted under a street-light in Srinivasa Nagar. “Students from the nearby Ammakulam, Nehruji Nagar and Srinivasa Nagar come here. The classes are conducted from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for students until class 7 and students from class 7 to 12 come at 7 p.m.,’ she says.

The street light doesn’t function sometimes rendering the students and their tutor helpless. “I have to ask the younger children to leave on such days,” says Ms. Gomathi adding that matters get worse when it rains. “We usually run into one of the students’ houses but classes are usually dismissed if it rains heavily.”

Volunteers and philanthropists from surrounding localities help to conduct events, Ms. Gomathi says. ‘We celebrate important days like Independence Day and Deepavali together. The volunteers sponsor gifts.’

Most students coming for these classes have been attending since they started school. ‘I have been coming here since I was a student in a balwadi. Now I am in Class 7,’ says Deena Dayal. ‘Akka teaches us very well and we prefer to ask her all our doubts, especially in Maths,’ he adds.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:12:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/she-teaches-students-under-streetlight/article29218367.ece

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