Asha Trust - Manigal Kottur

Project Brief: To promote education as a tool to change the marginal status of the gypsies. To use schooling as a tool to keep children in a safe environment and away from work. To break the barriers that prevent them from accessing the educational and other.
Project Type: Other (description)
Primary Focus: to go to formal school (description)

Secondary Focus: remedial education

Area: Urban
Supporting Chapter Contact: Chennai
Status: current / ongoing
Project Steward: Saraswati Palayur
Project Partner(s): Usha bhaskar
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , First Floor, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai 600004,Near Nageswara rao park,Chennai,
TAMIL NADU  600004
Stewarding Chapter: Chennai
Jul 2021ChennaiUSD 4719
Jun 2021ChennaiUSD 317
Sep 2020ChennaiUSD 1500
May 2020ChennaiUSD 1322
Sep 2019ChennaiUSD 6928
Jun 2018ChennaiUSD 8826
Aug 2017ChennaiUSD 9628
May 2017ChennaiINR 46000
Oct 2016ChennaiUSD 6066
Oct 2015ChennaiUSD 7797

Total = $48105.8

The gypsy children get sucked into the rag picking profession at an early stage. In this context schooling becomes an important tool to change their marginalized status.

    The gypsy community is one of the most marginalized communities, socially, economically and educationally. Though a settled community now, they continue their nomadic style and travel often. Their children are often left out of the fruits of educational benefits.

The process of starting a new project, Manigal - Kottur was initiated in 2015, after a decade long experience in working with gypsy children in a colony in South Chennai, where the intervention has resulted in

  • improved school enrolment and retention of gypsy children.
  • children continuing their education beyond primary education into higher education.
  • weaning children away from joining the profession of garbage clearing at an early age.

The understanding gained over the years about the issues confronting gypsy education gave the confidence to extend the project to a new gypsy colony where the drop out rate of gypsy children was very high. Manigal - Kotturreaches out to gypsy children in a colony in Central Chennai which has over 150 gypsy families. Originally a completely gypsy inhabited colony, over a period of time, the houses seemed to have changed hands. So the colony has a mixed population of gypsies and Tamil families.

Many gypsy children from the colony do get enrolled in schools initially. But due to social, cultural and language differences their adjustment in school is not smooth. The corporation school and another aided school are at a 5 min walking distance from the colony. Inside school gypsy children often want to remain together in their own groups, talk in their own language and remain indifferent to the teaching process. Used to a freer, independent and interesting life style they find it difficult to confine to classroom norms, routines and procedures. Some make an early exit while others absent themselves frequently. With poor learning levels, they soon lose confidence and become drop outs. Out of school, they join their parents in the profession of rag picking and the vicious cycle continues.

The project posts additional teachers in the local school where majority of the gypsy children study. Working with gypsy children in small sub groups, it provides an opportunity to gypsy children to interact in their own language and stay with their peers till they settle down in school. It uses creative learning methods to generate interest in the learning process and sustain them in school. Over a period of time, the project proposes to narrow the learning gap between gypsy children and others.

Changing the educational statues of one generation of gypsies is essential to change their marginalized status

  • Help in the enrolment and retention of gypsy children in schools.

  • To give personalized attention to the gypsy children in school and create a congenial environment where they feel secure, accepted and settled.

  • To help gypsy children attain necessary learning levels and complete the school cycle,

  • Maintain close relations with the parents and community and get their cooperation for the education of gypsy children.

  • To prevent children from pursuing rag picking at an early age.

Asha-Chennai is a chapter of ‘Asha for Education’ based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It is run entirely by an action group formed to catalyze socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children.
supporting Learning to gypsy children enrolled in educational institutions