PUDUKKOTTAI: They are engineers, and this time, they are engaged in building a bridge of a different kind in a quaint village, Thondaiman Oorani, in Pudukkottai.Aravind and his three friends — Vignesh, Bhavanishankar and Sarathas — who are also civil service aspirants, have taken it upon themselves to snip out the red tape in their pursuit to bridge the virtual divide that stares at children who have to attend the online classes.
The four engineers have laid out a timetable and take turns in conducting the classes. At 10 am, a group of 12 students studying in Class X in Thondaiman Oorani sit outside their houses, attending the morning session. At 2 pm, their class ends. But, lessons continue for 28 other students studying from Classes VI to IX that goes on for four hours.
The four friends started taking classes on a July morning after schools distributed textbooks. Their students are all children of farm workers, who cannot afford to buy smart phones. The young tutors have turned open spaces into classrooms, bought blackboards, notebooks and pens for the students.
They give maximum attention to students of Classes IX and X, conducting tests every Saturday. “While preparing for TNPSC exams, we were helped by our seniors. This prompted us to help children belonging to our village,” beams Aravind.
Echoing Aravind’s sentiment, Vignesh, a mechanical engineer, says, “This is a way of giving back to society. Class VI to X syllabus is very useful for us in our Group 1 exam of TNPSC,” stressing on the symbiotic nature of the exercise.
Most of the 1,500 residents of the village are farm labourers and MGNREGA workers. “Two of my daughters are attending classes every day. I was initially very worried as we could not make them attend online classes. These youths are Godsend for parents,” says Soundaravalli, a villager.