Project Sangamam - Poondi
Report for Mar 2005

ASHA Chennai Projects
Sangamam Poondi – Working with Primary schools near Poondi

April 5, 2005
Contact Rajaraman Krishnan

Recall …

The project was approved and started in September 2004. We started work with the schools at Kuppammal Chattiram and Kanakavalli Puram in September and with Pattarai Perambudur in January.

From the last report, the expected activities for this period were,

  1. Partitions are to be purchased for the schools to more effectively use the space available.
  2. A desk is to be purchased for the Pattarai Perambudur school.
  3. School day functions at Pattarai Perambudur, Kanakavalli Puram and Kuppammal Chattiram.
  4. A medical camp is to be organized at all the three schools.
  5. Planning for the summer and proposal for next year.

We have still not organized the medical camps because of lack of availability of the doctors. We are still looking for volunteer doctors. We will probably be organizing this in the next academic year. We are still in the process of defining the activities for Summer as well as writing the proposal for 2005-06.

Happenings during March 2005

1. Infrastructure 

A desk and chair were purchased for Pattarai Perambudur. Partitions will be purchased shortly.

2. School Day Functions 

The preparations for the school day functions at all the three schools were on throughout the month. Several competitions were conducted among the students and they were trained for the dance and drama shows for the school day. The competitions included the usual running race, lemon spoon race, sack race etc. They also had drawing competition etc. The school day itself was the culmination of all these activities. These were held at Pattarai Perambudur and Kanakavalli Puram on 19th (at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm resp.) and at Kuppammal Chathiram on the 2nd of April (at 2:00 pm).

It was heartening that several volunteers made time from their busy schedules to attend these functions. Arjun, Radha Arjun, Sundaram, Viswanathan and Rajaram attended the function at Pattarai Perambudur. Viswanathan and Rajaram also stayed back to attend the function at Kanakavalli Puram. Ananth, Viswanathan, Lakshmi Suryanarayanan, Lakshmi Subramaniam, Sowmini and Sankar attended the function at Kuppammal Chathiram. The AEO (Assistant Educational Officer) for the Poondi block, M. Shankara Reddy also attended all the three school day functions. The heads of these schools also took their time to attend the functions of other schools.

While there were a lot of typical school function speeches we have all grown up sleeping to, the functions were dominated by the performances by the school children. It was a delight to see the children perform. The participation was not restricted to a few talented children. Many children from each schools participated in these performances. The effort taken by the teachers was obvious to see at all these functions. It was heartening to see that it was the government teachers who were driving the function. Our Asha teachers could also be seen doing their work inconspicuously getting the children ready, training them etc.

The functions were notable in that they mostly avoided Cinema songs and even where they were used they were chosen carefully. There were several dramas that conveyed a moral message like hygiene, water conservation, not polluting the land, patriotism etc. There were several nattupura paadals. But for one or two cases the children couldn’t sing. Either the teachers sang themselves or they resorted to a cassette recorder. That is a training that needs to start early. I hope Srinivasan and the teachers can bring up the standards of singing. 

The functions were quite well organized. There was a shamiana for children to sit under (which was somewhat insufficient for Pattarai Perambudur which has the most students). Lack of electricity delayed the programme but was not allowed to stop it. Arrangement for generator was made quickly. The volunteers could also participate in the prize distributions. Note small prizes were given to all children. Medals and books were also given to the winners. Parents and other villagers also participated in good numbers especially in Kanakavalli Puram and Kuppammal Chathiram. 

There were several positives for the project that we could observe at the function. There was excellent bonhomie between the government teachers, the AEO and the Asha team. Srinivasan has been managing these relationships with care. The villagers and the government teachers were very happy with the changes that Asha has brought to these schools and welcomed our continued involvement. Over the months the changes that Asha has brought in was visible, smooth black boards, functioning non-leaking rooms, cooking areas were all there to see. 

Expected Activities for April and Future

In the next month the following activities are expected in this project,

  1. Partitions are to be purchased for the schools to more effectively use the space available.
  2. The schools will close towards the end of April and our teachers will also get a 10 day vacation.
  3. Asha teachers will conduct a survey of the parents in the villages we are involved with. In particular they will find out reasons for drop-outs of non-attendance at schools. They will also try to identify the reasons for parents to prefer private schools etc. They will try to increase the enrollment at these schools.
  4. The proposal for the next academic year should be ready soon.