Padhana Veedu.......a narrative.

There were fifteen kids aged six to twelve along with the local facilitator and I squatting on a dimly lit porch. Each one of them held a notebook and a pencil/pen in their hand. Some of them had to be cajoled out of their home and still others were escorted from the play ground. It had been ten minutes since were sitting idly. The facilitator, a locally appointed teacher, is attending a phone call. Children curiously ask my name and they smile on hearing my name. Perhaps, is rather odd that a male should have a feminine sounding name. 

Giggling went on for five minutes until the facilitator returns. He opened one notebook and scribbled vowels in Malayalam and instructed the child to copy. Next he opened another notebook and wrote few single digit addition problems. The elder girls requested him if they could sing instead. While they sang the rest of the kids too joined in the chorus. The singing session abated after fifteen minutes. The songs had rhythm and the beat too.  

A boy sitting adjacent to me asked if I could write a numerical problem for him. I was not inclined to give him a problem to solve, so instead, I asked him to count the number of people occupying the porch. He started counting, “onnu, rendu…”, pointing his index finger at the person and saying it aloud and declared seventeen. After three iterations and generous help from his friends he settled to eighteen. “Fine”, I asked him to write it down. He wrote eight first and one after that. That looked like eighty one to me. I clarified, how much is this? He said eighteen. 

I politely asked him to show it to his friends.  His friend wrote eight first and one before that. Ahhh, my friend exclaimed and came back to his place to rectify. He wrote eight first and then one after that. We settled there. That was eighteen for him, at least for now.

It was seven forty. The facilitator drew the gathering to a closure by giving them homework. Wasn’t this supposed to help them with their homework, and weren’t they sitting at their home? I bemused. As the session drew to a close, the notebooks and pencils morphed into drums and drum sticks. An informal jig followed till we departed. 


Padhana Veedu is a program implemented by SSA in collaboration with the Gram Panchayath. It is meant to be an after school academic assistance for the tribal students. This particular Padhana Veedu at Cherumula, is one of the four Padhana Veedu in Thaondarnad Panchayath.


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