In 2004, the members of Rotary Club of Adyar first visited The Panchayat (Government) Union Primary School at Kandigai, in Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu. The dilapidated condition of this school with badly thatched roofs, cracked buildings, broken floors, no compound wall, horrible noon meal kitchen and very unhygienic surroundings, made a deep impact on the Rotarians. There were no toilets and complete lack of any water facilities either for drinking or washing. The kids were undernourished and scruffy, none had ever seen a library nor had the joy of using play equipment. Immediately, we decided on our first ever major literacy project of renovating this School, thus “Schools to Smiles-Panchayat Union School at Kandigai” has become our club’s sustaining project, from 2004 till date.
We met with the Collector of Kanchipuram with our plan for renovating the school. Surprisingly, he came forward to put up a new block of classrooms with government funds and suggested we take up the job of erecting a compound wall to protect the large area of the school from encroachment and misuse. So that was the first contribution from our club. The compound wall costed us Rs.4,00,000/- to build in 2005. It was a great improvement to the school since misuse by the villagers after school hours was effectively curtailed.
Since then, our club has been doing some renovation at this school every year. After a solid compound wall and gate were erected, the kitchen was rebuilt with ceramic tiles and safe drinking water using RO plant was provided. Separate toilets for girls, boys and staff were built with overhead water tanks and bore well. Smart classroom with projector and e-learning platform, desks & benches, ceiling fans & light fittings, library books, computers and play equipment for the children were installed. We have found that the additional infrastructure directly translates to more comfort for the children and teachers. This attracts better enrollment of new students and ensures retention of existing students. There is good potential for increased intake year on year from nearby villages, due to increasing economic activity in the community. Our goal is to increase the number of students every year, provide quality education and a good environment to study.
We conduct regular medical camps for students and public using the school premises. We also celebrate independence day at the school each year, with the children and parents. We propose to engage an NGO to conduct adult literacy programs and soft skills training to the teachers.
We have seen the following benefits to the community, through our involvement with the school;
Increased learning levels.
Reduced school dropouts.
More enrollment of new students.
Higher literacy levels and hence better community.