Education is a Collective Responsibility
There are 67.76 million tribal people from 533 recognised tribes in India. This accounts for 8.08% of the country’s population. Of this, 1.32 million (1.95%) belong to Primitive Tribal Groups (PTG) who are more marginalised than the Scheduled Tribe population. Compared with literacy rate of 29.34% for the general population, literacy among tribal people is at most 6%. Of the 80 million, Kerala accounts for 3.6million tribal people from 37 tribes and 48 tribal communities*.
Distance from home to school, lack of good teaching staff and lack of basic amenities at tribal community schools are key reasons for many of the tribal children being discouraged from going to school. Tribal students have very high drop-out rates during school education. When they drop out they typically start helping their parents in non-skilled work such as cattle rearing, collecting honey or woodcutting.
Let’s take the Kurumbar tribes in Kerala, an indigenous population in the blue mountains of Attapady valley that houses 10,000 families. For Kurumbar children it’s a 3 hr trek from their gudlu (home) to school and back baring heavy rain.
In 2018 when we were just about to release TabbieMath 1.0, we read about a school that provides free education and food for children from the Kurumbar tribe. St.GEMS is the school based in Attapady providing education to 535 students of which 120 are from tribal communities. St.Gregorious English Medium School operates from age 4 to age 15. To know more, we decided to stay for 2 days at the school.
We were throughly impressed with the commitment and energy of teachers at St.GEMS. The setting of the school is in mountainous Attapady surrounded by forests and villages but every class at this school is e-learning enabled with smart boards and wireless internet. They have a fully operational computer lab. Tabbie agreed to provide access to our platform for all students and teachers at no charge to this school.
We have continued to participate in helping the school through training teachers, teaching Math and so on. In 2019, the school faced a major issue with lack of safe boarding facilities for girls. As a result, sometimes they fail to attract girl students owing to lack of essential amenities. We agreed to contribute towards the construction of a boarding home for girls. We are happy to that construction is now complete and the new Rising Stars Boarding Home will house 45 girls in a safe environment closer to school campus so they can walk to school in less than 15 minutes.
*Data Source. International Journal of Advanced and Innovative Research Education of Tribal Children in India A case study. KIRTADS.Kerala.Gov.in.