THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In January 2016, 24 students from the Attappady tribal settlements will sit for the entrance test for admissions to class 6 of Sainik School, Kazhakkoottam, thanks to ‘Project Shine’, a social initiative of the 1991 batch of the school. Dedicated to the memory of their batch mate Shine P Baby, who passed away in 2006, the project envisages to mould defence officers from tribal communities.
For the past six months, the children are being trained by project conveners at the Attappadi Hill Area Development Society (AHADS) building in Agali. The Old Boys Association of the school (OBASSKZM) and the Palakkad district administration joined hands to identify the 24 children from GVHSS Agali, Mt Carmel H S Jellippara, GUPS Kottathara, GUPS Karara, GTHS Puthur and GTHS Sholayoor for the training. Apart from providing conveyance for the students to the training centre, the sponsoring batch will meet all expenses for writing the entrance exam, said project convener and child psychologist Babu Mathew.
“While 180 hours in six months would be a reasonable amount of time for fifth graders to prepare for an entrance test, these kids needed to be emotionally empowered to imbibe the lessons,” said Mathew and wife Litty Mathew who lead the training. “They now think of learning as a sportive challenge. Sainik School and everything about the outside world have become things they can aspire to,” he said.
Adopting the Socio- Emotional Learning (SEL) approach, the facilitators established connection with the families of the children and kept monitoring their progress through weekly assessments and frequent phone calls. The children also had the opportunity interact with professionals from all walks of life through the visits of batch-mates and families.
Palakkad Sub-Collector P B Nooh said that the project has produced visible results. “It could bring a massive change in the life of at least a few of these kids,” he said. Adding that the project has focused on all-round development of the children, noted vascular surgeon Dr Sunil Rajendran said that the kids have been opened up to infinite possibilities through this. Dr Rajendran and Dr Louie Fischer, both from the sponsoring batch, conducted medical camp as part of a three-day residential camp during the Pooja holidays.
The students are also appearing for the Navodaya Vidyalaya entrance exams to Class VI for the Academic Year 2016-17, to increase their chances at quality public school education. The batch members and their families will continue to handhold the children during their academic years, said Babu Mathew.