Kaathadi started a year ago, and draws from experiences of the teachers and the students of Vidyodaya, which has educated hundreds of children from the adivasi communities living in and around Gudalur. It was started in 1996 by the Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust (VBVT). The aim was to address the deprivation of education opportunities among adivasi communities in the region.
When VBVT started the Vidyodaya, 15 youngsters from the adivasi community were also taken in and trained as teachers, said B Ramdas, a Founding Trustee of VBVT. “But over time, they became not only teachers but managers too. Some of them are now running the school and are members of the trust. The founding members have actually stepped back and have handed over the trust to them,” Ramdas said.
The VBVT has nine members of which currently five are from the adivasi community and four are the founding members of the Trust.
Vidyodaya also provides education to its students free of cost. “We don’t collect fees. Instead whatever little money children bring during the course of the year, we deposit in their names in the bank and use it to pay for books and stationery the next year,” Ramdas explained.
The school does not have uniforms and the study materials are provided at a subsidised price. The children are also taught how to make utility and decorative objects in the afternoon, which are sold and the revenue is deposited in the children’s bank accounts. VBVT also accepts donations.
Vidyodaya now has around 80 students in LKG to class 5. Exclusively catering to the children from the adivasi tribes of Paniyas, Bettakurumbas and Kattunaickan living in Gudalur and Pandalur taluks of the Nilgiris, the school has three teaching volunteers and five teachers, who are also from the communities. […]
Why maths and science?
To expect a child that air – which is invisible – occupies space, can be difficult, and even more so for children from marginalised communities, who may face alienation and language barriers, among other hurdles.
“In most schools, subjects like maths and science are taught in an abstract manner,” Maya said. “This leads to many children [from marginalised communities] dropping out as the foundation for learning these subjects is not laid at the elementary level of schooling,” Maya said.
Though the teachers and the students of Vidyodaya school are not directly involved in the video development, Deepak and Maya frequently take their inputs from classroom experiences. Students also help the duo at times by performing the experiments for the videos. […]
Empowerment is the key
Ramdas is very particular about the community taking charge for their own development.
“It is their community, so they should take responsibility for it and direct the enterprise in a way they think will benefit their development,” he said.
He adds that the trust also has resource persons in the tribal villages to help students to transition smoothly to mainstream education from class six, when they move out of the Vidyodaya school. […]
At present, due to the pandemic, the school has been closed. However, teaching has not really stopped, Deepak said. “Teachers make short videos and send them to the students’ parents. Whenever the students watch the videos, they respond on the WhatsApp group,” he explained.
However, given that not all parents have a mobile phone with internet connection, Deepak said that they are identifying volunteers at the village level now so that smaller study centres can be set up and education can continue. “We have initiated eight study centres as of now which will have 10-12 students when things open up slowly,” he added.
Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To know more about donations and their work, check out their website here.
18Source: “The story of YouTube channel Kaathadi and how it’s empowering tribal communities in TN” by Megha Kaveri, thenewsminute.com Education
Date visited: 31 August 2020
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