Remote rural schools
Michaelgiri LP School, Marayoor
Michaelgiri LP School is located at the picturesque hill town of Marayoor. Marayoor is well known as a centre for spices and surrounded by sandalwood forests and sugarcane plantations. Set amongst the hills of the western ghats, it’s about 5½ hour drive and approximately 180 kms from Kochi. Marayoor is 30 kilometers from the nearest town is Munnar; the famous hill station of South India.
Sacred Heart School, Kanthaloor, Kerala
The Sacred Hearts School is located in the remote town of Kanthaloor very close to the Kerala-Tamilnadu state border. Set amongst the foot hills of the Western Ghat mountain ranges surrounded by forests, this is the only school in the area and caters to the teaching need of about 15 tribal villages and the same number of backward communities.
The Sacred Hearts School is the only school in the region and was started by a missionary group in the late fifties. With no schools or education system present during that time, the area had zero percent literacy. An upper primary section was established in 1958 and was upgraded to a high school in 1960. Being a backward region, there was initial reluctance and opposition from the tribal communities to send their children to school. It took more than 20 years before the missionary groups were able to convince the tribal villagers of the benefits of education and to send their children to school. Even now there are a few hill tribal villages that shun school and contact with outsiders.
The Sacred Hearts School currently has 650+ children from the surrounding villages. The school is desperately short of teachers mainly because of the remoteness of the region and the lack of qualified teachers from with in the region. Being remote and run by a missionary group, they receive very little funding from the government and rely on fundraising and donations. The school also runs a children’s home for both boys and girls. This is run as a registered orphanage and houses children from the age of 4 years to 16 years. Since the school can’t afford any form of transport for the children and the very limited public transport system in the area, the orphanage also doubles up as a hostel for children from even more remote villages. The school is currently trying to raise funds for a vehicle.
Due to lack of teaching staff in this remote region coupled with the shortage of resources, the school is struggling to meet the teaching needs of the community. Over the last decade YOI has supported
the school through various essential infrastructure building projects and maintenance activities, water pipelines & tanks, school toilets and furniture along with educational support through Volunteer Teachers. YOI has and continues to take on various other development projects in the region through its Caring for Orphans & Community Development programs.
Carmel Jyothi Special Needs School, Machiplavu, Adimally, Kerala
Carmel Jyothi special school is situated in the hill town of Adimally amongst the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala. It is the main spice-trading centre for the region, situated about 100km (a 2hr drive) from the Yearoutindia Head Office in Kochi.
The school is run by nuns from the nearby missionary and employs 7 teachers and a number of staff, some of whom are former pupils. There are around 70 pupils; 30 of whom are full time residents, and the school provides a bus service for children from the neighbouring communities and more remote areas.
Disabilities are wide ranging. Some, such as those with visual and or hearing impairment have no learning difficulties but simply do not have access to learning mediums such as sign language or Braille. Others have severe physical, mental and (perhaps due to a lack of correct management of their situation) psychological conditions and ideally should have one to one supervision.
Carmel Jyothi has won several awards such as the Special needs school using Most Innovative Teaching Methods. They’ve also had medal winners at national level sports competitions!
Due to the specialist nature of the school volunteers need to have some experience in teaching /supervision of special needs children and or psychotherapy / physiotherapy.
The pupils have limited lesson structure as there is a high pupil to teacher ratio. With this in mind volunteers may be expected to join in classes as support but graduate to teaching a small class on their own. However due to the lack of syllabus the volunteer has almost a free reign as to what to teach! The school users are taught basics of how to look after themselves, dance, basic language including English alphabet and numbers, art, yoga and sport.
At certain points throughout the day there will be opportunities where you can have one-to-ones with the children. There has also been a recent addition of a “sensory tent” by Abigail – a previous Yearoutindia volunteer, to increase stimulus especially for those that are sensory impaired. If you think you’d are able to take on this challenging project at the Special needs school, I can put you in touch with previous volunteers who worked at this site, so you can talk to them about their experience.
Lessons run from 10:00am to 4:00pm, with half an hour for lunch Monday to Friday. The rest of the time is free time, although some free time may be spent designing lesson plans or making educational material for the school. At weekend a popular place amongst former volunteers to relax is Munnar (45 minutes by bus). Situated in the Western Ghats, Munnar offers an abundance of wildlife (including monkeys exotic bird species and – if you’re lucky – elephants and the rare leopard) and a lot of exotic fruits, tea and spices. Yearoutindia has staff and accommodation in Adimally and Munnar including a tree house complete with double bed and hot running water!