is a registered NGO set up in 1978 at Ambalamoola in Nilgiris district, TN, to provide free medical and other care to the Hill Tribe inhabitants of the area. The project works in the hilly and forested area situated on the borders of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The Tribal hamlets are scattered, some are situated off the road in forested areas frequented by elephants etc. and many villages lack public transport and easy access to schools. Within the last 5 years the Society’s activities have focused more on the priorities of disadvantaged and underprivileged Tribal children and young people, particularly to address very low educational levels and high drop out rates from school.
Pandalur Taluk has the highest percentage of Tribal population of any Taluk in Tamil Nadu. Ambalamoola in Nellakottai Panchayat, where the project is, has the highest percentage of Tribal population within the Taluk. In Tamil Nadu there are only six Tribal groups classified as ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups’ by government. NWTWS’s activities cover four of
them. The Problem the project is addressing Many of the issues faced by the Tribal community stem from lack of ability to cope with change that has happened to them in the last 50 years
and low levels of education which are linked with poverty, lack of self esteem, marginalization and exploitation. They often miss out on welfare and other schemes because they are not aware of them or lack the skills and persistence to apply for and acquire documentation. Early marriage is not uncommon. Their often poor ability to plan and save money also contributes. We have 2 full time Tribal Field workers dedicated to these activities. There is a vast gap between educational levels of Tribal and non Tribal children. Around 90% of non Tribal children, including relatively newly arrived Tamil repatriates from Sri Lanka, complete 10 years of schooling. This contrasts sharply with Tribal children, of whom less than around 20% pass 10th standard and many drop out much earlier. The low educational status of Tribal children in Pandalur Taluk is reflected in literacy statistics. Whereas Nilgiris District as a whole has a literacy rate of 85.2%, that of Pandalur Taluk is only 78.89%. Reasons for dropping out of school have been identified by years of observation and village work. These include late admission, irregular attendance, unfamiliarity with the language of instruction, lack of role models and parental motivation, shy and timid nature, high demand for farm workers of any age, need to care for younger siblings and livestock, poor health, dysfunctional families, (oft en coupled with alcohol abuse), etc. The influence of these factors is vastly enhanced by poor access from isolated areas due to heavy monsoon rains, wild animals etc. and girl students having to return home in late evening after special classes. Where the re are schools in isolated areas, poor teacher attendance is a common problem. To address some of these problems, partially due to student feedback and demand, and after consultation with Tribal elders, a Hostel facility was started in 2014 for 50 boys and girls who stay at the Hostel, but attend the local government high school. They receive additional coaching, tuition and supervised study periods, as well as acting as mentors for the Residential School children. The children value greatly the opportunity to be away from the stresses and inadequacies of home life, (drunken arguments and behavior, poor lighting, privacy to study etc), a conducive and supportive atmosphere to
and supportive atmosphere to study, study, special classes and coaching, the special classes and coaching, the bathing facilities (particularly for girls), attention to hygiene and cleanliness, bathing facilities (particularly for girls), attention to hygiene and cleanliness, the support and mentoring of our male and female warden the support and mentoring of our male and female wardens, regular medical s, regular medical checkups, out of school activities, including talks on child and Tribal rights, checkups, out of school activities, including talks on child and Tribal rights, role model visits,etc.role model visits,etc.
We aim to show the children the positive aspects of life outside their
We aim to show the children the positive aspects of life outside their Tribal community and at the same time to strengthen their Tribal community and at the same time to strengthen their Tribal identity and l identity and culture. Nearly all the children take part in sports, drawing, dancing, singing culture. Nearly all the children take part in sports, drawing, dancing, singing or other cultural activities. An additional benefit is that some of the social and or other cultural activities. An additional benefit is that some of the social and educational messages can be brought home to the villages, since for 90% educational messages can be brought home to the villages, since for 90% of the of the children at least one parent or guardian attends the quarterly meetings children at least one parent or guardian attends the quarterly meetings held for them. For the last 2 years we had a 100% pass rate in 10 held for them. For the last 2 years we had a 100% pass rate in 10th std. Those now in 11th and 12th now in 11th and 12th are finding it a little tough, but we have high hopes. We are finding it a little tough, but we have high hopes. We have 5 students top 5 students top colleges in Chennai as well as 4 doing nursing courses in Chennai as well as 4 doing nursing courses. We expect 5 more to join them next year. We expect 5 more to join them next year.
Why we need funding support:
The need for Tribal children to be educated and take their place in the wider community cannot be in doubt. Our work in villages in preventing children from dropping out of school is yielding results confirmed by external reviews. For those at risk of dropping out of education beyond 8th std, the Hostel is a lifeline. Initially the Hostel was fully funded by a corporate and a UK donor,\ however due to shortage of funds and change of policy, they are unable to continue supporting us. Whilst we will get some smaller donations of around 2 to 3 Lakhs We are now seeking to fund the shortfall of 10 Lakhs for 2 Years.