“Bringing school dropouts back to the world of letters”: Thalir Trust, a school founded by three tribal youths – Kerala

The backyard school of Thalir, a trust formed by three tribal youths at Nadavayal in the district, has set an example in bringing school dropouts back to the world of letters without receiving any financial assistance from the government.

Each tribe has its own ethnic language, culture and folk literature, says Manglu Sreedhar, founder of Thalir. “They express themselves quite confidently within their community. But, when their children join school, they do not feel at ease with the new culture. The language, too, is unfamiliar to them,” she says.

This sense of alienation led to many tribal children dropping out of school in the district. “If the authorities will introduce a new curriculum, rooted in the culture and language of tribesmen, we can curb the dropout rate considerably,” she says.

Ms. Sreedhar was also a dropout but, her life was changed and attained focus at Kanavu, an alternate school founded by K.J. Baby. After her informal education, she resolved to uplift tribal children.

It was during a leadership training programme at Kanthari International Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, that Ms. Sreedhar, M.M. Santhosh and K.T. Abhilash, two tribal youths in Wayanad, decided to launch Thalir. […]

As per the requests of the children they launched the backyard evening school. As many as 30 children, including 16 girls, of three tribal hamlets attend classes every day.

They are now planning to launch backyard schools in four tribal settlements in the area and have identified teachers for the purpose. […]

Apart from the school, the trust also trains children in sustainable farming, handling money, enhancement of handicrafts of each tribes and organic farming.

Source: “A chance to study again” by E.M. Manoj, The Hindu, 16 September 2015
Address: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-chance-to-study-again/article7657602.ece
Date Visited: 17 October 2022

[Among] India’s biggest problems [is the fact that its] education system is failing it. At some 1.4bn, it has more people than China, and its economy is growing fast. It needs to make hundreds of millions of its young people employable, particularly in the poorer, more populous northern states. […] Graduates of its leading universities are high-flyers at the world’s best firms. But many of the 265m pupils enrolled in its schools will leave them barely able to read or do basic maths. […]
Some signs of change can be seen. On a recent afternoon in Bajraha village in Bodhgaya in the eastern state of Bihar, a dozen children in their early teens sat in a circle in the village hall as Baijanti Kumari, a local volunteer, drew letters on a blackboard. In their summer holiday the children were learning how to read a simple story and do basic maths, things they had not learnt in four years at school. The programme, organised by Pratham, an Indian NGO, along with the state government, aims to stop them and some 1.5m other children across Bihar falling further behind in the new academic year. Similar efforts are afoot in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, reaching some 3.3m children.
Such catch-up activities are welcome, but cannot fix the system’s many problems. Attendance by children remains poor, with the national average at around 70% and closer to 50% in states like Bihar. Teachers in government schools are paid well, but penalised little if children fail to learn anything. Data published in 2017 showed that a quarter of spot-checks found teachers absent from schools. […]
Given the government’s aversion to data that contradict claims about its success, that may be too much to hope for.

Source: “India’s failing schools”, The Economist (EU), 1 July 2023
URL: https://www.economist.com
Date Visited: 2 July 2023

Success stories that have made a world of difference for millions of schoolchildren:
Jointly creating storybooks in familiar languages for first-generation learners: Suchana, Pratham Books and StoryWeaver | More success stories >>

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