COIMBATORE: Though K Kalavathi’s job profile is confined just to teaching Tamil language and overseeing the administration of the school she heads, the 56-year-old woman has been going beyond what is expected out of her. During the last four years, the headmistress of Government Tribal Residential High School at Kargudi in Gudalur in The Nilgiris has helped her students, with average performance and those who are on the brink of dropping out, from tribal areas to pursue higher studies or become employable.
Kalavathi said she has helped 35 of her students to get enrolled in Government Industrial Training Institute (Scheduled Tribes) at Uppatti in Gudalur, the nearest institute. A 20-year-old M Karthiyaeeni from Kargudi in Mudumalai said she wasted a year by staying home after completing Class XII as she was unaware of the free industrial training offered by the state government exclusively for tribal students. Thanking Kalavathi for informing about the course, Karthiyaeeni said she is presently enrolled in a plumbing course at the institute.
Another student of Kalavathi, K Sasikumar (20) said he is enrolled in Mechanic Motor Vehicle (MMV) course and wants to become an entrepreneur. He said he too spent some time doing nothing after completing his Class X. Kalavathi also accompanies officials in the Government ITI and Employment Office to reach out to students to ensure they pursue higher studies and register their names for government jobs.
“First, we have to become close to people belonging to tribes and that is not an easy task. We must mingle with the community and frequent their habitat to become familiar. I had been doing this for the past four years,” Kalavathi said, adding that she wanted to make students self-reliant. “There is a need to carry out such groundwork as the parents of the students are daily wage labourers who lack the knowledge to guide their wards,” Kalavathi added.
When contacted, Principal of Government ITI (ST) at Uppatti C Venkatakrishnan said, “We are tying up with companies to enable students to get apprentice positions so that they get hands-on training. We are also sensitising the students in tribal hamlets to increase enrolments during the current academic year.”
Venkatakrishnan said the institute has approached the district administration, forest, and police departments to help them raise awareness regarding the courses among the tribal students.