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Story behind transformation of school

Students of the Corporation School at Kondayampettai excel in various activities

Students of the Corporation School at Kondayampettai that predominantly caters to the educational needs of residents in the slum locality encompassing Nadukondayanpettai, Melakondayanpettai and Nadukondayanpettai streets in Thiruvanaikovil are today second to none in academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Well, this was the school where teachers were afraid to be posted, as students in their teens were notorious for their rudeness, just four years back. Group clashes among the students was not uncommon in the school.

This was an extension of the behaviour of adults in the slum, most of them drunkards eking out a livelihood as daily labourers.

There even used to be a police escort to prevent skirmishes in the school.

So how did the transformation take place?

“It was six months into 2013-14 academic year when I had lost all hopes about reforming the students that the Extension Department of St. Joseph's College volunteered to intervene,” recounts the School Headmistress Geetha.


The change started as there were regular visits then on by Post-Graduate students, as part of the SHEPHERD (Science and Humanities for People's Development) programme that requires them to spend a specific duration of time with the local community as an essential part of the curriculum.

The first thing the students did was to get the address of every student and visit their families for counselling the parents about the importance of education, the perils of drinking, and scope for better employment.

Alongside, they started engaging the students in very many competitions to infuse in them interest in academic and extra-curricular pursuits.

The children were taught singing and dancing.

There were frequent oratorical competitions for which the college students themselves mobilised Rs. 30,000 and presented the school with mike and speakers.

And soon, the school students began shedding their stage fear and started winning prizes in inter-school competitions.

The college then started providing clothes for orphaned children in the slum on an annual basis, and organise campus visits for all the students to enlarge their horizon of thinking.

The reflection of the intervention is loud and clear. The children who otherwise used to drop out after school to work in brick kilns or construction sites are top-notch scorers in the high school at Thiruvanaikovil and the higher secondary schools for boys and girls at Srirangam. The students’ obedience has to be seen to be believed, said Ms. Geetha.

“Working in a hostile environment in the urban slum was indeed a challenge unlike in remote rural parts where people are amiable and intervention is much easier”, said Stephen, senior Coordinator, SHEPHERD, St. Joseph's College.

Similar intervention activities are being carried out by the PG students in many other slums including Kolamavu street near Mambazhasalai, Venice street near Chathiram Bus Stand, and Dharmanathapuram slum in Palakarai area, Mr. Stephen added.


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