CHENNAI: Students of a city school have turned into life-skill teachers. As part of the Empowering India project, Class 11 and 12 students of Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram School in Kilpauk have begun teaching residents of three slums around the school basic skills.
These include, among others, topping up the balance in their mobile phones, booking LPG cylinders over the phone through an interactive voice response system, checking the booking status, registering complaints for services over the phone, filling up railway booking forms, bank withdrawal and deposit slips, money order forms and Aadhar ID card forms.
It started when Class 12 student Sahana Suresh saw her maid come to her mother to fill up forms or recharge her cellphone. “She would request my mother to help because middlemen were charging between Rs 100 and Rs 500 for these favours. I asked ayahs and sweepers in our school whether this was true in their case. When they said ‘yes’ we knew it was time to ‘educate’ them,” said Sahana. In September, a few students began teaching helpers in the school. Soon the word spread and others started approaching the students. Now, residents of three slums in Kilpauk, Ayanavaram and Shenoy Nagar and their children are coming for lessons.
“We have started teaching them the alphabets using our primary school curriculum. They need to know the alphabets for many of the mobile operations,” Sahana said. After it was found that Sheeba, a helper, could copy English words she was taught to speak in English and her beautiful handwriting compelled the students to ask the management to allow her to write the names on the school’s merit certificates.
The students are now thinking of teaching the workers to make paper bags and paper craft with the help of their parents so they can supplement their income. S Kavitha, a sweeper in the school, said, “The students take time off to help us develop these useful skills. Life is easier when we know such things.”