Anuradha and Krishna moved to Sittilingi in 2003, our idea was to create a space for learning that would be tailored to the local needs. With the help of Tribal Health Initiative an NGO working in the area for 11 years then, we did a survey of the villages and visited local schools to understand what was needed. To our surprise, we found that almost all children below 14 were enrolled in schools! The parents were quite keen on schooling and so children were religiously sent to schools even when there were no teachers to speak of or any learning happening. We also found that most children dropped out of formal schooling at class 8 to 10 levels, often after failing exams. These teenagers consequently had very low self-esteem, lacked basic academic skills, were frustrated and mostly migrated to nearby towns to work in the textile industry. Schooling had, however, convinced them that farming or any kind of work with the hands, is inferior and something to be ashamed of.
We decided to
- try to improve the academic skills of school going children
- try to see what can be done for teenagers who had stopped schooling.
Thus Thulir started off as a post-school Learning Centre.