Community Action for Social Transformation (CAST)
CAST is an integrated rural development project started in 1984. The project is located in Poothatankudieruppu village in Cheranmahadevi block of Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. The main objective of the project is to uplift the rural poor women and children who are economically and socially deprived. The following main activities are being carried our through CAST since its inception.
1. Vocational training & production units to encourage various entrepreneurship activities.
2. Primary health care
3. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene activities
4. Basic education to rural children
5. Formation & Strengthening of Self Help Groups
6. AIDS Intervention activities among tourists and women in prostitution (WIPs)
7. Eco development activities
Asha Supported Education Programme
CAST has been implementing the programme of elementary education for rural children from 1997 May onwards with the assistance from Asha. The programme is being implemented in five rural villages for Kalakad and Cheranmahadevi blocks of Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu. The main objective of this project is providing pre-school education to the children in the age group of 3 to 5 years old.
The specific objectives related to this project are :
To promote both physical and intellectual growth of the children
To inculcate hygienic practices among the rural children
To involve the local community in promotion of education, health and wholistic development of their children in the community'
Total target children benefited under this project are 169 in five villages. The centers are requested from the Self Help Group of the villages. The children are needy and deserving since most of the mothers are beedi makers and some are working in the agriculture field during the daytime.
Daily Activities of the Children
The pre-school centres start at 10 a.m. with the morning prayer and closes at 4:30 p.m. with national anthem. Each preschool is managed by an instructor and one assistant. The curriculum of the pre-school was made to develop the physical, intellectual, creative activities among the children and also to improve the behaviour of the children. The methodology of teaching includes story telling, rhymes with actions, charts and picture cards, drawing and class works. The teaching aids have been prepared by the teachers themselves by using local materials.
Development of Physical growth of the children
The pre-school centers provide facilities for the children to be grown in all aspects physically, mentally and morally.
Regular medical check-up is given to all the children by a qualified doctor. The children with acute respiratory infections (cold and cough) ear infections, eye problems are given special attention by the doctor. A small medical kit with basic medicines are left with the teachers which are being used to treat the children for minor illness. Weight and height of the children is checked every two months and recorded in the medical register. The malnourished children are given vitamin and iron tablets regularly. All the children are immunized against polio during the National Polio Campaign. The children are given mid-day meal every day. Indoor games and outdoor games provide good exercise to the children.
The mothers of the children have been motivated to grow greens, papaya and leafy vegetables, drumstick in their backyard which provide good nutrition to the entire family. The mothers are encouraged to construct toilets in their house.
CAST has provided low cost toilets in the pre-school, and the children are educated to use toilets and hygienic practices such as
proper hand washing, oral hygiene, nail cutting are the motivating factors to their parents and therefore the families are able to have latrines, smokeless chulas, compost pits at low cost.
Intellectual growth of the children
The teachers are giving exercise to children to make models out of clay, to draw simple pictures in charts and colouring them. They are asked to display the charts during the mothers meeting.
Promoting moral standards and social awareness among the children
The stories, songs and rhymes taught to the children promote moral strength and good character. The younger children are grouped separately and they are encouraged with more plays and simple games. The national important days are celebrated in the pre-schools with the active participation of the parents. The best children are given prizes during the meetings.
Trainings were organized for the teachers about the teaching technique, curriculum making, preparation of simple audio visual aids etc. Collective programmes are organized for all the teachers and Ayahs once a month in one pre-school.
During the collective programme the progress of the particular pre-school is reviewed by the other teachers in positive way. The strength and other weakness of the schools are openly discussed with other teachers. This collective programme helps to monitor the progress made in each pre-school. This programme is carried out on rotation basis and each school is graded based on the progress made in the following 10
Appearance of the school cleanliness inside and outside the classroom
Appearance of the teacher – whether neatly dressed, good relationship with children,etc
Activities taught – children's progress, rhymes, stories, small dramas,etc.
Creative activities with local materials clay, paper vegetables.
Community Participation – Mother's meetings organised – Annual Parent's Day
Proper recording and documentation
Teachers involvement in the community activities (SHG)
Medical checkup, health charts (weight, height) maintenance, good hygiene habits – like hand washing
Teaching aids prepared
Scope for future sustainability – small nominal fee is collected and people's involvement in the programme
Impacts of the project
1. This project has provided 169 children to get qualitative education which has helped them a lot to grow physically, mentally and socially.
2. The children's health behaved has been changed to a greater extent which has promoted good health with the children and the family. Diarrhoea and other communicable diseases have been reduced in the family.
3. The project has created awareness among the community that the education is an integrated wholistic approach in which both children and the community has to grow in good health, knowledge and cooperation. Now the mothers are able to express their opinion regarding the growth and development of their children. They are able to understand the importance of childhood practice especially in health and hygiene. Many mothers are able to avail toilets in their houses. The children are teaching the parents to use the toilets in a proper way. The mothers are happy about that.
Most of the mothers have raised small kitchen gardens in their houses. They are happy to see their children watering and looking after the garden. Through which the children's nutrition status has been improved especially with vitamin and iron deficiencies.
In addition to the educational activities of the children our cultural team has been strengthened with some musical instruments. This team regularly conducts street theatre and other cultural activities to educate the various development programmes to the community.
CAST thanks to Asha by whose support and cooperation CAST pre-school children and community have been able to attain the desired achievements.
CAST reassures its sustainable efforts to be continued in the community with more dedicated and commitment.
(Presented in the Asha Conference at Chengalpattu on 29,30,31 Dec 2000)
CAST, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu