Project Site Background: INDIA: SOUTH-INDIA: Tamil Nadu
India is a nation that has made
great strides that it is rightly proud of. However, it has one legacy
has decided to tackle head-on but for which it needs help. That legacy
is its caste system—a system that existed for more than 3000 years
although no longer officially supported.
there used to be four main castes: the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas,
the Vaisyas, and finally the Sudras (the farmers and the peasant caste). Beneath the four main castes is
a fifth group, the Scheduled Caste. They are the untouchables, the Dalits.
The Dalits historically performed what were
considered the most menial and degrading jobs.
there are approximately 250 million Dalits.
This means that some25% of the population is Dalit.
Today, although caste is no longer officially supported, there is a
long road to go to empower historically disenfranchised peoples such
as the Dalits (and the Sudras)
in terms of past historic lack of access to education.
HIGH LITERACY CLUSTER INITIATIVES
Rights Education Movement of
: Tamil Nadu
its many goals, the Human Rights Education Movement of
(HREMI) is a program
To support the coordination and promotion of the education of [poor] village
youth and women’s groups;
To organize youth leadership
To facilitate the exchange of ideas, sharing of experiences and bringing
people together from different political and religious groups for dialogue
works to empower men and women, organizations and individuals working
towards the realization of their human rights.
the organization concentrates on supporting educational initiatives
for residents of seven (7) districts of Tamil Nadu covering a total
of approximately of 209 villages, namely:
, Sivagangai, Chennai,
area has been divided into 7 clusters. Each cluster caters to 10 to
Global Literacy Project—HREMI(DeltaCommunity College of Nursing
the next decade GLP will be working with the Human Rights Education
Movement of India (and its program at the
DeltaCommunity College of Nursing) to facilitate the creation
of a modern nursing library
in support of their three-year certificate program and the one-year
basic training program. We also hope to create a multimedia center
use by the students.
also plans to develop small reference libraries in strategic elementary
and high schools in the various clusters over the next decade to support
the goals of the Human Rights Education Movement of India.
GLP anticipates having volunteers visit these sites over time to assist
in a variety of ways via our “Global Learning Expeditions.”
2. Integrated Rural Development Centre (IRDC): Gandarvakottai, Pudukottai
Development Centre (IRDC) is a secular non-profit organisation
( established in 1987 registered as a public trust) that focuses
its activities on the rural areas of Gandarvakottai--a
sub-district of some 37 village in the Pudukottai district (click
HERE for map)of Tamil Nadu state in South India. As described
in IRDC's development literature, this sub-district receives little
rain because the mountains create a rain shadow effect that blocks
precipitation. There is little industry and 90% of the population
depends on agriculture with some 60% of the population having noownership
in land at all, while 35% own a homestead only. Remnants of feudal
system still exist in Gandarvakottai..
The vision of IRDC is an egalitarian society, free from oppression,
violence, exploitation and injustice, irrespective of caste, creed
and gender. IRDC believes the vision can be realised through integrated
development approach that ensures peoples participation and eco-environmental
balance. Currently IRDC works with some 4,500 households providing
visits by health workers on regular basis and imparting basic education
with a focus on child development, family planning, environmental awareness
and personal hygiene.
IRDC supports children from three to five years old in early childhood
learning centres. At any point there are more than 500 children in
the early learning centres who are provided with meals and nutritional
suppliments. Children move from the early learning centers to local
government run primary schools. However, supplementary education and
coaching are provided to primary and high school children with the
goal of preventing them from dropping out from school.
to the Hindu religion, society should be divided into four broad classes
called VARNAS. A person had the same varna that his or her parents had.
And he or she had it from birth to death — there was no way to
The Hindu caste system is ordered hierarchically, with
Brahmins at the top and Sudras at the bottom. Untouchables, also known
as Harijans or Dalits, fall outside of the caste system all together.
all the most unpleasant work in South Asia. They are forced to live
on the outskirts of towns and villages, and they
must take water downstream from and not share wells with varna Hindus.
The caste system is not described in the Hindu scripture.
The system was originally devised to create an understandable division
of labor and identify different groups of people.