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Stop Needy Indian Children From Dropping Out Of School
Following the floods of 2015, refugee volunteers worked closely with communities in Chennai and Cuddalore that suffered considerable damage from the disaster. As with other relief efforts undertaken by OfERR, it was established that working on a long-term welfare program is required to benefit the residents in the years to come. Students from these villages were found to have a high drop-out rate from schools, and were often children of meager means with parents who work hard as daily wage labourers or in agriculture. OfERR launched 24 after-school tuition centers in Cuddalore and 3 tuition centers in Chennai to provide the guidance and motivation needed for these children to stay in school and alter the course of their lives in the process. Currently, 1106 students (with an equal male female ratio) benefit from these centers. The centers are run with the full cooperation of the community they operate in – village heads help interview and appoint teachers who are often college students themselves, and classes are run in the compounds or terraces of other village residents to keep costs low. Blackboards have been installed by OfERR in 15 villages, and notebooks and shoes have been distributed to the students free of cost. Apart from the subjects in their syllabus, children are taught how to communicate in English so as to widen their higher education and job prospects when they graduate. The students in every class encourage each other to study hard and succeed, and participate actively in the Children’s Parliament program wherein students take the initiative to bring about social change, by petitioning authorities to keep street lights on during their evening lessons and restore water supply when it is interrupted. The impact of these concerted efforts is evident when a tuition teacher from Chidambaram, Cuddalore recounts the story of a boy who once did not know what the letter “B” even looked like but now reads and writes English fluently. Similarly, bright children who were failing all five subjects in their exams, because of lack of access to coaching are now passing four out of five subjects, and are determined to perform even better in the coming months. As many tuition classes are held in the late evenings in open areas with minimal lighting and no roofing, OfERR invites funding to provide waterproof tenting fabrics that can protect the classroom during the monsoons, and emergency and solar lights that the children can use when electricity is unavailable. There is also a desperate need for sports goods and libraries, so these children can engage in team sports for their physical well-being and also have access to reference books for a further understanding of their subjects. Apart from a significant reduction in dropout rates, these tuition centers are a platform for children to think about the future and work towards their dream careers without fear or uncertainty. Just like students from more privileged backgrounds, the children in OfERR’s tuition centers dream of becoming pilots, lawyers, doctors, computer experts and more. Regardless of the paths their education will take, every one of these children is a leader in the making. With your patronage, we can give them the solid foundation they need to make this happen.
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