03 August, 2021

Life Is Not Just A Chore

Housemaids seek new avenues for study and vocational training beyond their call of duty

Life Is Not Just A Chore
"Main Telugu padh sakti hoon," chants a group of 10-12-year-olds as they pore over their Hindi workbooks. Too old to learn the basics? Perhaps. But these are not ordinary students. Each child at Ananda Bharati is a domestic help who works at least five hours every morning before reaching school at 2 pm. The girls studying here have never had any formal schooling, some began working at the age of seven to contribute to the family income.

The school was started on a verandah of the YMCA, in the Tarnaka area of Hyderabad in 1989 by Janaki Iyer and Bhagyalaxmi. They wanted to educate the girl children of construction workers. "Today, the school has students between 5-17 years and all of them are coached till they are ready to take the class VII board exam," says V. Sailaja, who teaches there.

The girls are divided into three groups. In the first, they are taught numbers and the alphabet. Once they start understanding syntax and sentences, they move on to group II. At this level, general science, maths, environment and history are...

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