Prince's Mead and a rural community in Southern India - Penelope Kirk, Headmistress
In July 2005, we first established links with a small school in Inungur, Tamil Nadu, Southern India. The Headmistress, Penelope Kirk spent a month working with the teachers and pupils at the school and took resources and gifts from the pupils and parents of Prince’s Mead.
Since then many events have been held at the school to raise funds for the project. The pupils have been actively involved in fund raising and the PMA (Prince’s Mead Association) and Governors have raised approximately £5,000.00 each year since that initial visit in 2005, for the benefit of the Indian children.
In India, the state does provide free education for children. However, an English style curriculum is not offered which is the case in the small private schools and as English is so valued this is considered a real bonus. At the Timothy Pruss Memorial School (as it is called) 25% of the running costs of the school are collected from the parents and 75% is funded through charitable giving and fund raising. Significant concessions are given to children of agricultural labourers, one parent families, those who are physically handicapped, to parents who do not have a proper income either through a prolonged illness or incapacity due to an accident, staff children and the education is entirely free for orphans.
Independent primary education is highly valued as children are encouraged to engage in extra-curricular activities, transport is often provided to collect them and drop them home, the quality of teaching is far higher and state schools are significantly affected by teachers being called for election and census duties and other Government related work. In addition, it is recognised that the pastoral care and support is more readily available and the environment more nurturing.
Our support, together with the support offered by other organisations, does make a critical difference. Our pledge is now to pay the annual salaries of five of the teachers in the infant and junior part of the school. We recognise that no school can function without teachers and whilst resources are critical, the most precious resource any school can have are its teachers.
Over the years, Prince's Mead has:-
- Purchased land for a playground
- Installed toilet blocks and fresh drinking water stations
- Paid for security fencing and bought tables and chairs for the classrooms
- Created two playgrounds - one for the kindergarten children and another for the junior pupils
- Planted many trees to add shade to the playground
- Designed and installed an outdoor classroom which is used to give the children some shade when they are reading outside, listening to stories and engaging in role play
- For the past six years, Prince's Mead has paid the salaries of five teachers each year
The value attached to education in India, cannot be underestimated. The curriculum is rigorous, with much of the teaching being in English and delivered by rote. The thirst of the children to embrace their learning opportunities is tangible and much can be learnt from their desire to succeed.
The Prince's Mead pupils recognise the importance of supporting this small school and in addition to the formal annual fundraising, many of them raise extra funds for the children by baking cakes and selling them at school and in their local villages, organising refreshments at school functions, donating their birthday money, organising sponsored events and many more examples of entrepreneurial enterprise.