Support Tribal Children Education | Milaap
Support Tribal Children Education
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    from Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu


There wasn’t a student in school until she got there eleven years ago. Mahalakshmi, teacher at Government Tribal Residential Middle School, Arasavalli wasn’t expecting an empty school on her first day. “It was a complete shocker. I was so excited that I bought biscuits and sweets to give to the students, but imagine my disappointment when all I could see was a dilapidated building fortified with just a cook and a security guard,” she says. Mahalakshmi soon realised that the school has students that have enrolled, but none of them attended class.

When she heard that the children come to school only to pick up lunch in the afternoon, she broke down. It wasn’t easy to convince the children, or for that matter, even their parents. They would either run away from her or say things like ‘My kids need to take care of work at home’, ‘You have a government job. It doesn’t matter if you’re working or not. You’ll get your salary anyway, so leave my kids alone’, or worse, ‘In the last fifteen years, no other teacher has made any effort to attend school, so don’t start now’,” reminisces Mahalakshmi. It took time to convince them but she believes that it was her tenacity that earned people’s trust.

How did she manage to keep the children in class?

“I always use stories to teach and I think that’s what got the children interested in learning. I grew so attached to my students that I went out of my way to take care of them, like feeding those who refused to eat or using motivational techniques, like small gifts, when they spelt right,” smiles Mahalakshmi, who points out that these children couldn’t even be put into different classes according to their age, because they had to be taught the basics, right from personal hygiene to moral values.

Thanks to her passion and efforts, these children now do not miss a single day of their classes! Very soon local people have started recognizing her efforts and began to support her in their own small way but there is still a lot required to be done. They need funds for their infrastructure and renovating their classroom and campus.

Mahalakshmi teacher has given hope and dreams to many children in this village. Their dreams ought to be protected, nurtured and supported. Now their families look up to education as the only bridge that could take them forward. Their schools are a means to taking them to a future of their dreams.

Though such an initiative is far-fetched for most of us, we can at least do our bit to protect the flame of an existing lamp and maintain its glow.

You can support Mahalakshmi teacher!

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