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Vivek Ananda Vidya Sadan School Munnar

Sri Vivekananda Vidya Sadan school is located at the picturesque hill town of Adimaly. Adimaly is well known as a centre for spices and surrounded by tea plantations. Set amongst the hills of the western ghats, it's about 1½ hour drive and approximately 100 kms from Cochin. The nearest town is Munnar, the famous hill station known as the kashmir of South India.

Sri Vivekananda Vidya Sadan was started as Sri Vivekananda Sabha in the year 1979 by a group of like-minded people under the effective leadership of Sri M. Thankappan. As it was incurring heavy financial burden to the managing committee, all others except Sri M. Thankappan decided to close the school or to leave the committee. Because of his commitment to society and concern for the future of the students studying in the institution, he decided to bear all the loss himself and continue the functioning of the same institution. And hence, the name was changed to Sri Vivekananda Vidya Sadan and is being run by the staff and management under the control of Thankappans Group Concern. This school was recognised by the state government in the year 1984 and got permanent recognition for the High School section in 1998.

A new section for Higher Secondary was also started in 2002. This school functions in a double storied building with vast play area and full-fledged labs and library. The Junior Vivekananda nursery section functions in a newly constructed building of modern style and facilities which enriches the young's personality and individuality. Here education through entertainment is followed rather than simple education. Adequate emphasis has been given to co-curricular activities so that the children are given opportunities to develop their creative talents. Apart from formal education extra curricular activities such as dance, music, art and craft, needle work etc. are also introduced in the curriculum. The school has been divided into three houses namely house of Joy, house of Peace and house of Love to encourage healthy competitions in the co-curricular activities. Now Sri Vivekananda Vidya Sadan provides quality education to 1000+ students from the mountainous town of Adimaly and its surrounding areas. The school has a committed team of teaching staff. Most of them are either Trained Post Graduate or Trained Graduate teachers.

Sacred Heart School, Kanthaloor, Kerala

The Sacred Hearts School is located in the remote town of Kanthaloor very close to the Kerala Tamilnadu border. Set amongst the foot hills of the Western Ghat mountain ranges surrounded by forests, this is the only school in the area and caters to the teaching need of about 15 tribal villages and the same number of backward communities.

The Sacred Hearts School is the only school in the region and was started by a missionary group in the late fifties. With no schools or education system present during that time, the area had zero percent literacy. An upper primary section was established in 1958 and was upgraded to a high school in 1960. Being a backward region, there was initial reluctance and opposition from the tribal communities to send their children to school. It took more than 20 years before the missionary groups were able to convince the tribal villagers of the benefits of education and to send their children to school. Even now there are a few hill tribal villages that shun school and contact with outsiders.

The Sacred Hearts School currently has 650+ children from the surrounding villages. The school is desperately short of teachers mainly because of the remoteness of the region and the lack of qualified teachers from with in the region. Being remote and run by a missionary group, they receive very little funding from the government and rely on fundraising and donations. The school also runs a children's home for both boys and girls. This is run as a registered orphanage and houses children from the age of 4 years to 16 years. Since the school can't afford any form of transport for the children and the very limited public transport system in the area, the orphanage also doubles up as a hostel for children from even more remote villages. The school is currently trying to raise funds for a vehicle.

Due to lack of teaching staff in this remote region couples with the shortage of resources, the school is struggling to meet the teaching needs of the community. Yearoutindia plans to support the school by providing assistance in the way of Volunteer Teachers through its Reach & Teach programs and Volunteer Workers through its Caring for Orphans & Community Development programs. We are also attempting to raise much needed funds for these community development projects.

Carmel Jyothi Special Needs School, Machiplavu, Adimally, Kerala

Carmel Jyothi special school is situated in the hill town of Adimally amongst the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala. It is the main spice-trading centre for the region, situated about 100km (a 2hr drive) from the Yearoutindia Head Office in Cochin.

The school is run by nuns from the nearby missionary and employs 7 teachers and a number of staff, some of whom are former pupils. There are around 70 pupils; 30 of whom are full time residents, and the school provides a bus service for children from the neighbouring communities and more remote areas.

Disabilities are wide ranging. Some, such as those with visual and or hearing impairment have no learning difficulties but simply do not have access to learning mediums such as sign language or Braille. Others have severe physical, mental and (perhaps due to a lack of correct management of their situation) psychological conditions and ideally should have one to one supervision.

Carmel Jyothi has won several awards such as the Special needs school using Most Innovative Teaching Methods. They’ve also had medal winners at national level sports competitions!

Due to the specialist nature of the school volunteers need to have some experience in teaching/supervision of special needs children and or psychotherapy / physiotherapy.

The pupils have limited lesson structure as there is a high pupil to teacher ratio. With this in mind volunteers may be expected to join in classes as support but graduate to teaching a small class on their own. However due to the lack of syllabus the volunteer has almost a free reign as to what to teach! The school users are taught basics of how to look after themselves, dance, basic language including English alphabet and numbers, art, yoga and sport.

At certain points throughout the day there will be opportunities where you can have one-to-ones with the children. There has also been a recent addition of a "sensory tent" by Abigail - a previous Yearoutindia volunteer, to increase stimulus especially for those that are sensory impaired. If you think you’d like to teach at the Special needs school, I can put you in touch with Abi so you can talk to her about her experience there.

Limited English and the Keralan language of Malayalam (YOI can help you learn the basics) are spoken in the school.

Lessons run from 10:00am to 4:00pm, with half an hour for lunch Monday to Friday. The rest of the time is free time, although some free time may be spent designing lesson plans or making educational material for the school. At weekend a popular place amongst former volunteers to relax is Munnar (45 minutes by bus). Situated in the Western Ghats, Munnar offers an abundance of wildlife (including monkeys exotic bird species and – if you’re lucky - elephants and the rre leopard) and a lot of exotic fruits, tea and spices. Yearoutindia has staff and accommodation in Munnar, including a tree house complete with double bed and hot running water!