NZEI supports girls’ education in India

A student at work at a TNLU education centreIn a society where traditionally girls have little value, it is remarkable that more girls than boys are attending Tamil Nadu Labour Union (TNLU) evening education centres and boosting their learning and future opportunities.

These are Dalit and Tribal children from the poorest and most marginalised communities in South India.  Most live in very basic dwellings where there is no electricity and no space for doing homework. Many of their parents are illiterate. Due to poverty and discrimination Dalit and Tribal children drop-out of primary school at a rate nearly twice the national average.

Nine evening education centres were established by the TNLU between 2014-17 thanks to funding support from NZEI Te Riu Roa and UnionAID (the NZ union movement’s international development charity). As a result of the success of these first nine centres, four have opened up in recent months and the centres now reach over 600 children each evening.  Again this is possible thanks to the generous support of NZEI Te Riu Roa.

The centres provide a safe space and necessary resources for these Dalit and Tribal children to do their homework. The aim is to complement the regular state school syllabus, by offering help in maths, English, Tamil language, and sciences. But they also do much, much more.

In addition to core subjects, students also write poetry and essays, and there are competitions in the creative arts such as drawing, singing and dancing. They learn about Dalit history and culture and take trips to places of environmental or historical interest. In some centres parents have also learned to read and write and contributed to costs of some of the teachers.

These are just some of the many reasons why the education centres are making a huge difference to the whole family. They also offer hope and promise for the children, and meet the aspirations of their parents who - like parents everywhere - just want their children to be educated and have a better life.


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