CHENNAI: Hailing from a tribal community, she was constantly reminded that girls are meant to get married and studies would not help them. But 17-year-old Priya worked even harder and ensured she proved them wrong by scoring 333 marks in her class 12 board exams.
Priya resides in a tribal village named Bargur which is situated 70 km away from Sathyamangalam in Erode district. Most girls her age in the village are being prepared to get married once they turn 18. But Priya's father Pandan instead wanted to educate all his four daughters. This earned him enemies even among his relatives but it did not stop him from letting his daughters go to school and college.
Though overcoming all the social challenges, Priya managed to go to school and opted for a science group choosing Biology and this became even more challenging as the Bargur Government Higher Secondary School she studied in did not have a Biology teacher for over two years.
"When I was in plus one we did not have a teacher for Physics, Chemistry and Biology. After repeatedly asking our headmaster they had arrangements to bring in temporary teachers from neighbouring villages. The teachers would visit us once a week for a few hours," says Priya. She hoped permanent teachers would be appointed in Class 12 as the subjects were getting tougher to understand. "We did not have private tuitions or the internet to refer to doubts," says Priya.
However, the school managed to appoint a Physics and cChemistry teacher. "But till I finished my public exam we did not have a permanent Biology teacher," Priya says.
Aother major challenge was Priya's village located inside a forest area with weak network connections. Due to the rains there would be frequent power cuts for more than eight to 10 hours. "Whenever I had doubts in my subjects I would write it down and when my sister, who is pursuing her college in Sathyamangalam, phones I would ask her for help and I would share it with my friends as well," Priya recalls.
Priya secured 60 marks in Biology. Priya has applied for Forest College and Research Institute in Mettupalayam for her undergraduation.