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Taking non-formal route to success

Ramya Kannan

Boys from Vellore special home record 100% pass

CHENNAI: At a time when it is normal for schools to boast of top rankers, this achievement seems more modest. Yet, it sits like a single jewel on a freshly crowned head.

At the Government Special Home for Boys, Vellore, which houses children in conflict with the law, boys took the Standard X Board examinations for the first time. And all of them passed. Home Superintendent R. Kandasamy says it is for the first time that the boys from the home, which is the only training centre for such children in the State, have taken the examinations. They were sent by the Juvenile Justice Board for offences, including rape, theft and pocket picking. "Most of these boys have dropped out of school. We take them through two stages of non-formal education. Those who have got through the second stage, or the equivalent of Standard VIII, can take the Standard X public examinations as private candidates."

But there were hassles in this simple process too; two problems loomed larger than the rest. First, there were no teachers for the school. And the boys could not go out to an examination centre to take the test. "I contacted a Chennai-based NGO, Relief Foundation, and they offered to bear the salaries for two teachers. We began intense coaching of all 10 boys qualified to take the examinations in September last year."

Then, Mr. Kandasamy wrote to the Office of the Directorate of Social Defence, suggesting that the home be converted into an examination centre. When even that was approved, the only thing that stood between the boys and the success in the examination was their own distance from formal learning.

"One of the boys, Manikandan, could not even write when he came here. But we got him through NFE stages 1 and 2 and today, he has passed," Mr. Kandasamy says. Murugan was discharged by the Board in February and could have gone home. But he preferred to stay till the examinations, with the Superintendent enrolling him in the Boys Club.

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