Coastal Fishing Community School

Alappuzha – Western Coastal Belt Kerala, South India


Background & Locality - Alapuzha, Kerala

The Alappuzha district of Kerala, also known as Alleppey, is surrounded by a network of waterways; these are the heart of Kerala's backwaters once referred to as the 'Venice of the East'. The backwaters are a popular tourist attraction along with the annual Nehru Trophy Snake boat race which is held at the Punnamada Lake in the 2nd week of August every year. Kuttunad, Alappuzha is well known for its 75km of lush paddy fields, this region was known as 'Keralathinte Nellara', which means 'rice bowl of Kerala'. The area produces coir geotextiles, used to strengthen the dykes of the paddy fields in this low land region. Coir and Jack Wood are the main materials used to build houseboats named 'Kettuvallam' (boat with knots - the coir knots the wood together with no use of nails) used for the tourist backwater tours. Along the 82km coastline of Alleppey there are a string of approximately 30 fishing villages, the Theera Desa School provides education for Lower Primary children in the small fishing village of Neerkunnam.

About the Project -Theera Desa Lower Primary School

Set within a strong local fishing community, this small lower primary school is run by Dhevera, the local fishing village community group who are the sole provider of funds for the school. Over the past few years the head teacher: Mrs. Mohana Kumari has seen a substantial drop in the new pupil intake rate due to the general lack of profile and facilities of this LP school. Parents are choosing to send their children to other schools within the local area that are able to provide better facilities for their children even though it involves travelling outside their local community. The total number of children on roll in 2007 is 305 pupils, 170 Boys and 135 Girls. Total funding for the school 2006/07 is INR 9000 (Approx GBP £106) as raised by Dhevera community committee. There is no government funding for this school as it is a committee management school and the only support provided by the government is one meal (consisting of rice and green gram) every day for each child. The school staff live within a 25km radius of the school with the majority of the 9 teaching staff living locally near the school.

Head Teacher: Mrs. Mohana Kumari

Mohana Kumari is a passionate and committed head teacher; she has worked at the Theera Desa LP School for over 25 years as a teacher and head teacher. Keen to ensure stability and longevity of the school; Mohana has considered the possibility of using a loan to improve the facilities of the school, ensuring the schools' progress after her planned retirement in a year's time.

There are two main teaching blocks built parallel to each other creating a central area where the water supply is situated. Next to the water supply there is a mature mango tree providing the only shade in the school grounds. The grounds are of a generous size for the number and age range of children attending this school. Neighbouring the school is a large medical institution and a nearby a railway line. Although there are low level foundations in place; there is no secure boundary wall or fencing around the school grounds.

Separate to the teaching blocks is a rudimentary kitchen built from corrugated metal sheets, a small building used for pre-nursery pupils and a very basic lavatory area.

Areas for development - Where we can help ?

Water supply:

The current water supply is very poor with no purification system. This must be replaced as a priority, including extending the water supply to the kitchen and


There are no sanitation facilities provided at this school. Proposed plan is to design and build: separate Girls and Boys toilet blocks with a septic tank treatment system. Additional rows of taps to provide clean safe water for the children.

To remove the existing kitchen and build a new kitchen with adequate space as an additional extension to the end of teaching block 1. Provide water supply to the kitchen and build a safe food storage area.

Teaching Block 1:

The two teaching blocks are of a reasonable design and fit for the purpose as teaching areas. However, one of the teaching blocks is dilapidated and needs to be improved to match the standard of the second block that incorporates the staff room. Ideally, this would require building work to extend the roofline to provide a platform corridor running along the length of the block. This would provide a walkway for staff and pupils, giving shade and protecting the building from the harsh weather conditions.

Currently the windows have dilapidated bamboo woven blinds which provide little protection from the elements. These could be replaced or improved to match the standard of the second teaching block. During the rainy season, the roof leaks and is in need of repair; existing roof tiles need to be cleaned and a new inner layer of protective roof lining needs to be layed besides replacing the damaged tiles. The interior classroom partitions are damaged and need to be replaced. It is proposed that an extension at the end of this block will be built to provide a new kitchen facility, with safe food storage area.

General Maintenance and Site Improvements:

  • Painting the school buildings to freshen up its appearance and all round renovation.
  • Boundary issues: Addition of a school gate leading onto the site. Wall or fencing around the perimeter. It is hoped that the medical institution may in time improve its boundary, alleviating the schools' problem.
  • Planting more trees to create a shady area for the children to play.
  • Games area/painted murals using key skills Maths and English to decorate and create a positive learning environment for staff and pupils.
  • A chance to build life-long friendships with people from all walks of life.
  • A chance to improve your DIY skills!

* This is a challenging project that require volunteers to be resourceful, committed, self motivated and will definitely involve long hours of work with plenty of excitement and fun. You will be involved in planning, organising and building activities with the help of a team of volunteers, local laborers and members of the community. Please note that the project area is remote and basic facilities will be provided by Yearoutindia. Amenities like Internet, ATM's, Fax etc are only available at the nearby town centre.

Program Costs:

Please contact our volunteer coordinators in your region for more details and breakdown of program fees. Majority of the fees go directly towards the projects we support. The remaining covers program related costs: all food, accommodation, project-related transport, staff and project maintenance etc.