YOUTH AND CHILDREN
Structured education in Tranquebar started with the coming of the first two protestant missionaries - Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Plutschau from Halle. They learnt that amidst tye exisiting system of villahe and temple schools, though many could read and write, very few could read without faltering or write and spell correctly. Girls, except for those who served the idols in temples, did not receive any education. Gurukulas were meant only for boys belonging to the Brahmin caste only. In this incomplete education system, the missionaries sowed seeds of developing common public schools in Tranquebar and eventually in India.
Today, with funding support from the Bestseller Fund, Denmark, Saint Joseph's Development Trust (SJDT), set-up Day Care Centres for younger children and Tuition Centres for older children in the villages of Tranquebar block. This initiative takes care of the children of daily wage earners.
'Complementary School Activities' programme in the Tuition Centres aims at achieving holistic growth through various extra-curricular activities and personality development programmes. Children are given opportunities to develop their leadership skills by being appointed as ‘class leader’ and through a Children’s Parliament Programme in which child leaders take oath to serve their society before a congregation of parents, students, teachers and local leaders of the village.
A ‘Child Rights Committee’ has been established to identify issues affecting children and to establish an action plan to solve them. Some of the issues that have been identified and solved so far are – cleanliness in and around the Tuition Centres, drinking water facilities, participation in polio camps, re-schooling of school drop-outs.
School children are informed about disabilities, its causes and prevention through proper medical practice. Re-schooling of differently-abled children in special schools, physiotherapy facilities and distribution of aids and appliances like crutches, hearing aids, Braille books etc. are some of the activities aimed towards the differently-abled children.
Eradication and spreading awareness on the issue of child labour in the Tranquebar region, is an important goal for SJDT. Surveys and careful analysis on the issue of child labour shows that the key reasons why it is prevalent in this area is due to lack of parental care, uneducated parents, poor quality teaching methods, faraway educational institutions, lack of infrastructure, and poverty. Some of the facilities SJDT has set-up to tackle this issue is by supplying educational aids, re-schooling of the drop out children, technical education, SHG formation amongst parents, micro credit facilities, individual and group counselling, child labour awareness campaigns, motivation for children, and care homes for orphans.
Today there are four schools in Tranquebar village and eighteen schools in the surrounding areas.