INDIA: Donor funding supports 800 youth at 30 study centers
Centers provide school support for poor and disadvantaged students. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 15, 2023) Close to 800 youth at 30 tuition (study) centers in India have been supported thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The centers provide school support for poor and disadvantaged students.
Salesians report that nearly 250 million students were affected due to school closures at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. The pandemic posed several challenges in public and private schools including the expected rise in dropouts, learning losses, and an increase in the digital divide. Furthermore, nearly 147 million children missed more than half of their in-person schooling two years into the pandemic, with more than 27 million of them having missed at least three-quarters of in-person schooling. This amounts to 2 trillion hours of lost in-person learning globally.
Knowing how much help youth needed, Tiruchy Don Bosco started tuition centers in Alangulam, Keela Eral, Dindigul, Kazhiyappanallur, Yercaud and Varadarajanpet to enable children to access school support. At the centers, students are encouraged to study, improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills, and engage in recreational activities.
With the funding from Salesian Missions, Salesians bought school supplies such as pencils, erasers, rulers and pens for the students to complete their examinations. Sports and recreational materials were distributed to 30 tuition centers for youth to improve both their mental and physical health. Teacher salaries were also supported at the centers.
Mela Eral is a village with 400 families who depend on the match box industry for their daily jobs, and Salesians are running a center at the church. Due to poverty, there has been an increase in the number of students who are dropping out of school. The students in the village are not able to study at home due to poor lighting and an often difficult learning atmosphere. The center supports to 200 underprivileged and deserving families in the village with 14 students attending the classes every day.
A student in another village is Agreetha, who is age 15 and lost her father two years ago. She is in a government middle school and attends the local Salesian center. She said, “I was finding it very difficult to read both Tamil and English. But after joining the tuition center, I am doing well in my reading and writing. The teacher taught me to read Tamil and English. I thank all those who help me to do my studies well.”
India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22% of the country lives in poverty. About 31% of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.
India’s youth face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44% of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10% of the working-age population has completed a secondary education. In addition, many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.
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