India: Madhurantakum, Tamil Nadu

Program for Education and Awareness Building, Madhurantakum, Tamil Nadu

(project established: 2006)

Children from the PEAB program &copy: indigo foundation

Children from the PEAB program ©: indigo foundation

It has been an  exciting year for the Program for Education and Awareness Building (PEAB) in Tamil Nadu India with our first three year commitment agreement with Pravaham Trust concluding and a new three year phase of funding about to begin.

PEAB, which started as a pilot project in 2006, has provided first generation, marginalised learners from Dalit communities with the opportunity to obtain an education and break the entrenched cycle of disadvantage and poverty. Given their financial situation, many Dalit children find it difficult to stay within the formal education system in India and drop out.

The program offers a structured coaching program for students in year 10, along with a network of village based education centres aimed at supporting students in years 1-9, which aim to reduce school dropout rates and encourage isolated rural communities to see the benefits of education for their children and their communities.

indigo foundation representatives Libby House and Nicole Moore discuss with program representatives &copy: indigo foundation

indigo foundation representatives Libby House and Nicole Moore discuss with program representatives ©: indigo foundation

Through the PEAB, students are not only assisted to learn, they are encouraged to image a better life for themselves and their families with many students now aspiring to become doctors, nurses, engineers, and business professionals. For Dalit children, such dreams were unimaginable just a generation ago but with the assistance of PEAB, participating students now have a real chance of achieving them.

PEAB has gone from strength to strength with many of the participants excelling in the State Board exams.  This year the third cohort of students passed through the Year 10 coaching program. A number of graduating students have also provided much needed support to younger students by operating the village based education centres, helping to ensure the program’s ongoing sustainability. Following recommendations from an evaluation of the village education centres tutors developed a system for recording attendance and student improvements.

In November 2010, indigo foundation representatives (new project managers Cameron and Nicole Moore and Development Coordinator Libby House) were present when the achievements of past and current students were celebrated in a public display attended by family, friends and education professionals. Our visit was also an opportunity for to hear from students, families and local teachers about the real impact that the education program is having on school attendance and results.

There has been significant feedback from the communities in support of the expansion and strengthening of the program to reach more students.  In collaboration with the project management, tutors, students and families, a new project design has been developed to ensure the program continues to meet student needs as they move through the education system.

The future

Cameron and Nicole Moore with schoolchildren &copy: indigo foundation

Cameron and Nicole Moore with schoolchildren ©: indigo foundation

The next phase of the project aims to strengthen the village based education centres by providing much needed infrastructure upgrades such as wet weather mats, lighting and increased educational resources. Tutors will be provided with bicycles to facilitate connection with isolated students at risk of dropping out as well as attendance at regular professional training sessions in Karunguzhi to build skills in curriculum development, teaching and student counselling.

While the village based education centres have already had a positive impact on students and their families, the project will now increase its focus on the needs of the younger students in years 6-9 as the challenges of the new national curriculum framework become more apparent and the Right of All Children (between 6 and 14) to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 starts to be implemented.  Students in years 1-5 will continue to be engaged in social inclusion activities aimed at encouraging educational participation and fostering community involvement and support.

The next phase of our project aims to expand the year 10 coaching program to a second centre for students unable to access the main village of Karunguzhi. The new centre will enable twice as many students to benefit from the coaching program where qualified teachers support learning achievement. Also established will be a Student Guidance and Resource Centre to provide career counselling, tertiary study access and financial support advice to Year 11 and 12 students. For the first time PEAB will be supporting students from years 1 to 12!

Children in the program &copy: indigo foundation

Children in the program ©: indigo foundation

Pravaham Trust is very supportive of the local project team’s desire to run PEAB through a new community based organisation and has agreed to support the program until the organisation is established to take over the administration under the direction of Mr Cheziyan, the project coordinator. As this new organisation evolves an exciting new partnership for us will emerge.

The success of PEAB is very much due to the hard work and commitment of the field team. In 2010-11 we said goodbye to Mr Dayalan who has been a strong support to the program in the first few years and to Ms Annie Namala who has been the indigo foundation representative since the start of the project (and will continue to be linked into the project as a consultant).

The project coordinator Mr Cheziyan has worked tirelessly to build support from across the education profession whilst the Pravaham Trust, particularly Ms Lucy Shyamsundar and Rev. Devadoss, have provided ongoing support and commitment throughout the year.

We are delighted to welcome Ms. Semmalar Jebaraj as the new local indigo foundation representative.  As Ms Jebaraj is researching Dalit access to tertiary education for her PhD she is a great resource for PEAB and was able to undertake an evaluation on the outcomes of the project over 2010-11.

In 2011-12 the project will benefit from our new partnership with the Rotary Club of Ryde. This will ensure ongoing and extended support for the PEAB and will be developed over 2011-12.  Stay tuned for more information next year!

Project Coordinator John Bolger
Liaison Officer Semmalar Jebaraj
Board Representative Deborah Raphael
Contact for more information


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