Though most of the children attend nearby Government Schools, they need supplementary education to sharpen their Learning Skills, Functional Literacy and other Abilities, leading to Holistic Training.
According to data from the education department, 97% of TN has a Government primary school within a 1km radius of a habitation and has a high enrolment rate too. Yet, retention is the biggest challenge for the department. "The biggest challenge we face is retaining children in school, especially children of migrating parents," says an official from the state education department.
How it works
The schools are set up by renting spaces within the villages itself. Sometimes even at a temple or under a huge tree where about minimum 30 children in the age group of 5-12 years from poor families attend classes from I to V between 5.00 & 8.00 p.m. on weekdays. Qualified women are selected from the local villages as teachers.
There is a lot of emphasis on extra-curricular activities like recitation of poetry, patriotic songs, quiz contests, drawing, story-telling, etc. Character Building, imbibing Indian Culture and Discipline are the hallmark features of STS with an emphasis on physical exercises including Yoga. Along with education, the school also takes care of the health and hygiene of the children by conducting regular health camps.
“I have personally visited many of the schools in the villages which do not even have proper access through roads. And yet, in the very same schools, I have attended Science Exhibitions, Cultural Programs and Sports Events and the exhibition of talents and creative skills of the kids is amazing,” says Dr.Akhila Srinivasan, Vice President – Single Teacher Schools.
One of the major reasons for the success of the program thus far has been the approach to identify motivated young women, who have grown up in the same village, and groom them with the skills required to run the center.
Training of teachers is an integral part of the functioning of STS. Teachers are imparted periodic all round training in Lesson Planning, Methodology, techniques for teaching children with Dyslexia and Autism, best practices to encourage extra-curricular activities etc. Training Programs are offered to teachers in an exclusive centre set up at Sriperumbudur near Chennai. Field Supervisors regularly visit these schools to monitor the growth and progress of the children. Regular district-wise social audits are conducted.
The children are all first generation school-goers. In the village of Kannanthangal, the parents of G.Sundar (Class IV) – Govindaswamy and Devi say “We did not have the means to provide education to our son and wanted to take him for work along with us. Thanks to Single Teacher Schools, he is now studying well and learning many skills”.
"It is not about the salary I earn but the respect I have earned over these years," says Premalatha. "I am known as the village teacher and it fills me with pride. Maybe to teachers in private schools who earn a lot of money being a teacher means something different. But here, to me, it is respect and I will not give that up," says Premalatha.
The Need of The Hour: Scaling STS by setting up additional 1000 Schools by 2022.
With the success of the program thus far, we aim to reach out to an additional 1000 villages in the next 2 years. While the organization is confident of managing the cost involved in setting up a center (i.e. identifying villages and training the teachers), it takes around Rs.50,000 per annum to run the center. This includes teacher salaries, providing for class supplies, and rent.
Run completely on charitable contributions, we encourage you to join us in supporting this endeavor. 100% of your donation will go towards running the schools alone and bring education to the doorsteps of those who are deprived.
- Donate Rs 1,500 to educate a child for a year in a Single Teacher School.
- Honour your loved one by supporting one Single Teacher School for a year: Rs.50,000/-.
- Pledge a gift to support 10 Single Teacher Schools – Rs.5,00,000/ p.a.