Monday, May 17, 2010

Jesuit center educates dropouts in Gujarat

A Jesuit program in Gujarat has come to the rescue of school dropouts and neglected children by helping them sit for school examinations and continue their studies.
Dhanyalxmi Malete had completed third grade at a primary school in Bapod near Vadodara, but could not read the local Gujarati language she spoke. So she joined the Xavier Centre for Migrant Workers on the outskirts of Vadodara three years ago for its non-formal education.
The 13-year is now among 29 students, who sat for the fifth grade examinations of the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) in March. Now they are awaiting the results.
Malete said she is “sure” she passed the exam and is now preparing to enter the eighth grade in March 2011 by skipping the seventh.
The centre is educating 87 students from socially and economically deprived families. All of them are Hindus.
Her classmate Rajesh Sureshbhai Bharwad said he had “lost interest in studies” because his teachers “had no interest in teaching.” But the Jesuit center has “revitalized his interest,” he told UCA News.
The Xavier Education Trust, which runs the center, has been managing a pre-school program for the last 10 years in the area.
It started the five-days-a-week, non-formal school program in 2004 “to educate dropouts and ensure that no one remains illiterate,” said Father Jolly Nadukudiyil, who manages the program.
He said Gujarat has thousands of migrant workers and a great many of their children are lacking an education.
School principal Sister Fatima Lopes from the Daughters of the Cross said the “task is very challenging.” The children are interested in education “but not their parents.”
The center also runs personality development programs and organizes karate and dance classes. One of its 11-year-old students, Prakash Kunwarji Solanki, recently won a karate competition.

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