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How a School for Tribal Kids in Kerala’s Wayanad Is Ensuring Zero Dropouts

Consisting of classes 1 to 4, the school currently has 75 students, out of which 45 children belong to the tribal community.

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Many centuries ago, Tipu Sultan built a carriage road in Wayanad by the name of Kuthirappandy Road, which was later converted into a motorable road by the British.

Along this very ancient road is the little village of Thariode, previously known as Edathara, where a lower primary school has employed a very interesting educational scheme in order to improve the educational standards for children.

Like most villages and towns in Wayanad, Thariode houses a small population comprising many tribal communities.

Image Credits: Philip Yeldhos

In the 1950s, a number of schools were set up by the state government for children belonging to the tribal communities as a step towards the upliftment of the Adivasi population in the district. Serve India Adivasi Lower Primary school in Thariode is one among them.

Consisting of classes 1 to 4, the school currently has 75 students, out of which 45 children belong to the tribal community — a rarity given the number of tribal student dropouts in the region.


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The educational program consisting of 30 minutes was conceived four years back, purely out of the need for inculcating better comprehensive and cognitive learning amongst the children, who despite having passed out of lower primary education, struggled with basic communicative skills.

Nisha Devassiya, Head Mistress of the LP school, had been instrumental in conceiving the concept of ’30 minutes’.

“Most of the teaching implemented by teachers adhered towards completing the portions that remained within the rigid framework of the curriculum, often leaving the children with lesser understanding of what was being taught. Also, each child has different calibre and we believe that with a program that involved children in role-playing their own lessons would delve into better grasping abilities”, Nisha said.

Starting with basic arithmetic lessons, the programme that took half an hour everyday out of the six hours of school soon evolved into Comprehensive English activities like English corner, Dictionary usage, Newspaper reading and Teacher Talk.

This should be considered as a pivotal step in itself, seeing as the school had a Malayalam-medium curriculum.

Students of Serve India Adivasi Lower Primary school amidst a role-play activity. Image Credits: Philip Yeldhos

“Providing tribal children with Basic English speaking skills, who otherwise can’t afford English medium schools and come from really poor households, the scheme has managed to make learning not just accessible for these children but assimilate the teachings as well,” Nisha added.

Soon enough, compiling daily-life situations and converting them into dialogues and eventually consolidating these into lessons, a book named “We Can” was published. Also categorised under Evolving texts, the book was later on circulated amidst 25 schools in the region upon request; one of the schools amongst these was a high school.

After acknowledging the effective progress the children were making out of the programme, the scheme was presented to many primary schools across Wayanad, all having met by positive responses.

Another interesting activity under the experimental scheme was “Sentence of the Week.”

Each class would be given a sentence, out of which they had to put together a skit that would be enacted by the children.

Image Credits: Philip Yeldhos

As part of the state government’s Haritha Keralam project, Green Protocol implemented in institutions under the Education Department, these 30 minutes were utilised to also make the children along with their parents understand the different ways to protect their environment.

With the start of this academic year, many parents who earlier sent their wards to English-medium schools far away, started sending their children to the Serve India school thanks to the success of the scheme. Also, under the changes brought about by the scheme, the most praiseworthy one is the number of Adivasi children dropout plummeting to zero!


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The initiative led by the Serve India Adivasi Lower Primary school, Thariode is a commendable example of how small changes can be vital in shaping a society, especially when delivered to children, who are the flag-bearers of tomorrow.

Thirty minutes each day helped raise the education standards for children, leading them to a world of learning beyond textbooks. Definitely the right step towards the grooming of a generation of great minds!

To contact Serve India Adivasi school, click here.

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey’s Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.