Educating Tribal Populations Despite Challenges

Date: August 20, 2014 Category:

Tribal Education

Project Leader: Dr. Sameer Prasad
In Partnership with Lions Family Welfare Planning Trust

Locality and Target Population
Tribal communities in Andhra Pradesh have long been disenfranchised. These communities have no land rights, illiteracy is rampant, and preventative health care does not exist. We identified the lack of education to be a primary concern within tribal and lower-caste target populations and, therefore, the focus of our intervention.

Children from vulnerable communities find it difficult to learn in traditional school settings. The tribal population’s inability to assimilate in a traditional classroom setting is a key factor that contributes to failing grades and a dropout rate over 70%. In addition, the remote location, heavy rains, and accompanying flooding of some hamlet communities inhibit children’s accessibility to government schools. As such, we have created a network of primary schools (spokes) and a hub hostel for grades 6–10. Our schools are located within the hamlets themselves and use activity-based learning pedagogy.

Hamlet school attendance rates increased from 30% to more than 100% capacity since children from neighboring sub-hamlets started attending our schools. Currently, participation and performance of girls exceeds that of the boys, and the longer the children are in our network the better they perform. The cost to educate a child in the hamlet is about $ 75 per child per year.

Hamlet 1

Hamlet 2

In our hub hostel, we provide education, health care, shelter and clothing for grades 6–10, which has made an even greater impact on performance and participation by eliminating malnutrition and improving grades, which have been stellar. The cost to care for a child in the hostel is $ 330 per child per year.

Hamlet 3

Development is a journey that starts by conducting a baseline assessment, ensuring an established organization is active in the area, and implementing best practices and human resources.

  • Interventions are problem-driven based on community input.
  • Focus is on quality versus quantity
  • Developing trust with the local community leaders and parents is critical.
  • Collaborate with government entities.
  • Expand on a gradual basis; the organization and staff have capacity limitations.
  • Do not make promises to donors, staff and community that you cannot keep.

Propagation and Growth
We started with a small boy’s hostel and grew into a network of six hamlet schools and a coed residential facility. Now, we accommodate close to 250 children. We are exploring new avenues to provide additional services to the community, including adding hamlet schools, creating 10+2 vocational schools, increasing our hostel capacity, and overlaying a health care network onto our educational value stream.

To learn more about this project, go to Tribal Education.