For Narikurava girls in Pallavaram, higher studies is a distant dream

Due to lack of awareness, parents stop girls from going to school when they become teenagers or attain puberty.
There have been attempts by schools to ensure the children come to school regularly. However, the children, especially boys, soon drop out, say the residents.
There have been attempts by schools to ensure the children come to school regularly. However, the children, especially boys, soon drop out, say the residents.(Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)

CHENNAI: V Saranya, a Class 6 student from Narikurava Colony in Pallavaram cantonment area, aspires to become an IAS officer. “I see my mother, along with other families, frequenting the collector’s office to submit petitions for basic facilities like better roads, electricity and water. I want to become an IAS officer and address these issues,” she says. However, not all children in the locality go to school like her.

Her friend, S Yuvarani, of the same age, doesn’t attend school and spends her days doing household chores. The stories of the children in the colony are almost similar with one half trying their best to attend school despite challenging circumstances and the other half quitting without proper guidance.

Due to lack of awareness, parents stop girls from going to school when they become teenagers or attain puberty. “Most of the children don’t go to the schools. Our parents don’t allow us and instead get us married,” said S Krishnaveni (19), who discontinued her education after completing Class 9. About eight girl children in the locality that TNIE spoke to said they stopped going to school between classes 6 to 9 due to parental apprehensions and disinterest in studies.

While Saranaya dreams big, she has no role model among the 180 families as they don’t have a single graduate. V Maheshwari (20), one of Saranya’s sisters, scored 400 marks in Class12 but eventually got married in 2023 and has a six-month-old child. Her other sister, Aishwarya (22), who is also married with kids, stopped her education after Class 11 and said she thinking about appearing for the Class 12 examinations as a private candidate.

V Saranya, class 6 student
V Saranya, class 6 student(Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)
I see my mother, along with other families, frequenting the collector's office to submit petitions for basic facilities. I want to be become an IAS officer and address these issues.

There have been attempts by schools to ensure the children come to school regularly. There are schools available within a three to four kilometre radius. However, the children, especially boys, soon drop out, say the residents. “I want my children to go to college. There is opposition from the elders in the house fearing that they would fall in love and get married to people outside the community. So, we got them married young. I hope my youngest daughter gets the chance to study well,” says V Radhika, Saranya’s mother.

Radhika, one of the leaders in the community, says there are around 130 children in the locality, of which half of them are not going to the school. “While the world is developing, our community is still the same. The government should plan interventions so that the next generation from the community gets a decent life. While we have been fighting for pattas for several years, it is refused as it falls under the cantonment area. Our people are hesitant to move to another locality as they have been living here for more than 40 years,” she said.

The absence of basic amenities, such as clean toilets with proper water connection further complicates the problems faced by them. “We have a community toilet, but it’s in a bad condition. The water supply is also inadequate. Especially, women struggle to use the facility at night and we have to go in groups. Due to this, many of us refrain from using the toilet for extended periods,” lamented G Mary, a 50-year-old resident. There is also only one drinking water pipe in the locality which provides water every alternate day and only 30 houses have electricity connection.

School education department officials said that teachers have been engaged in the enrolment drive and special attention will be provided to habitations with vulnerable population.

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