The project location is Marungapuri block in Tiruchirppalli district in Central Tamilnadu in South India. Marungapuri block has 330 villages, small and big. Vellakulam where our school and centre is situated is almost in the middle of these 330 villages.
Ten years back we started Chirumalar (Little Flower) School because, we felt a dire need to educate the rural youth with a standard education. Therefore, we followed constructive Pedagogy! This is the first school in the state with this pedagogy, which is totally children centred! Children would have the freedom to question and learn. The basic philosophy of the pedagogy is; “if an environment is created the children can construct knowledge”. This was a big shift from the existing pedagogy all over the state, Instructive Pedagogy!
We wanted this opportunity to reach first the rural children, the dalits, the girl children and the economically deprived ones. We have at present 452 children in the school who come from nearly 100 villages and hamlets. Almost all of them come from the families of peasants. Most of their parents are either uneducated or schooled a few years only. Therefore, many of our children in the school are the first generation of children getting formal education through our school.
The furthest village is situated nearly 30 kilometers far from the school. We have a few school vehicles to bring the children from these remote villages where public transport facility is either nil or seldom.
Ten years ago, what began in a humble manner has grown well mainly due to the institutional support of Mahalir Vidiyal Trust (The vidiyal community). Eight of its members render their service in the school. The parents and villagers have begun to see the importance of this school and the type of education it imparts.
While we follow the regular curriculum with this special pedagogy, we also bring up the children to face many social challenges(which inevitably they have to face). They are given many social awareness and analysis classes; One of our students, won a state award from a well know TV channel for the “Best student in social outlook” Along with him two others also won awards from the school. Though it is a “baby school” our children brought three out of six awards. Recently, in a district level competition among the schools, four of our children participated in elocution contest both in Tamil and English. All four won the competition. There are many such examples. But it is all the say, these children who come from very poor background go and compete with the so called, “well to do” institutions and shine out well. While all the schools celebrate Pongal (the harvest festival and the Tamil new year day) in a colourful and traditional manner, we do the same but along within the last three years, the children had plucked out more than half a million thorny bushes and plants and saplings that destroy our environment. This is the glimpse of what the pedagogy can do! The children also are very good at karate, local folk art etc. They are remarkably shining out in the state level in these extra- curricular activities too!
Meet the Team in Belgium
We have a team in Belgium willing to help and support from their home base to raise funds for one of the many projects for the Mahalir Vidiyal Trust.
OurNewChapter founders, Father Lobo, Mabel, Mayumi, and Vincenzo together with three key persons from Chirumalar School, Father Leonard, Sister Lilly, and Sister Selvi in Walterloo in May 2019.