School dropouts get another shot at education

Sathya (name changed) had to drop out of school a few years back to support his brother and a mother who was battling alcohol addiction. The 17-year-old, who joined a troupe of performers to play the ‘parai’, got another opportunity to get back to school on Monday.

He was among 17 youngsters, from Ambedkar Colony who dropped out of school owing to various reasons, selected to participate in an enrolment drive organised by the members of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (TNSCPCR), Greater Chennai Corporation and the Education Department.

“We had worked with a team of college students and teachers to identify and take a census of the homeless children as well as school dropouts at Ambedkar Colony. The team identified around 36 children and we decided to work with the Greater Chennai Corporation and bring teachers as well as heads of Corporation schools to facilitate their enrolment,” said M.P. Nirmala, Chairperson of the TNSCPCR.

R. Sangeswaran, an assistant professor of criminology and police administration, said they visited the area as a team and interacted with the children for two to three months. “Many of them had dropped out seeing their peers who had discontinued their education. They were working as junior artists in films or accompanying their parents to do odd jobs,” he said. The team, which included ten college students, sought out these children and motivated them to resume their education.

On Monday, the youngsters met teachers and heads of various Corporation schools from areas near their locality. TNSCPCR said the preference of the child about the school they wished to attend was taken into consideration and several were keen on going back to the same schools they had studied in. While 17 children were enrolled in schools, an additional 19 would soon be enrolled as well.

“For children whom we felt would have issues if they stayed back in the area or were forced to work, we’ve offered hostel facilities so they can continue studying,” she explained.

She added while the panel had chosen to focus on school dropouts from one area for the enrolment drive, they will be identifying more vulnerable areas in the coming months and form similar teams to speak to children there.

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