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Closing the Education Gap for Children in India

Access to a quality education is a right every child deserves. That’s especially true for children living in impoverished communities around the world, like the tribal children of Kodaikanal, India. For too long, they had to go without schooling. Learning facilities were either limited or too far away, transportation was often non-existent and basic resources were hard to come by. As for those who were lucky enough to attend school, many would drop out to become laborers, never reaching their full academic potential. The fight to give these children a quality education was on.

Committed to giving every child in rural India a chance to learn, United Way Chennai partnered with Child Voice to open a school in nearby Perungadu. Modeled after other facilities in the local school system, the elementary school—which can house 50 children—offers students the promise of a better future, with the convenience of learning in a local environment. For the first time, the tribal children are learning on a regular basis. They’re understanding new languages, adopting hygiene best practices and discovering better eating habits, which leads to healthier and happier lives.

Since the school’s opening last year, a nutritional program has been introduced and a kitchen garden established. Considering it takes up to four hours to visit the nearest town, having access to vegetables is a big step forward in the nutritional development of the students. Thanks to this school, local children are now getting the education they deserve, while laying the groundwork for healthier habits.

“About 121 families are scattered in the tribal community and basic amenities are denied. With Child Voice, we are providing education for the first generation of tribal children, as well as uniforms, study materials, supplementary nutrition and lunch,” said Shyamala Ashok, executive director of United Way Chennai. “At present, there are 41 children studying in the school, all of whom can read, write and speak in Tamil and English. Of them, five received admission into government school.”

Together, United Way and Child Voice are empowering the tribal children of Kodaikanal to learn and grow, enabling them to excel in school and life. What is your local United Way doing to support early learning in the community? Reach out and discover how you can help local children in need receive the educational opportunities they deserve.

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