In developing countries like India, getting a quality English medium education is often the only ticket out of abject poverty for many. Subsidized quality education with good technological training would give low-income village children a future and hope.
My name is Heather Stewart and I am a high school student in Redmond, WA. I want to introduce you to a very special school in rural India called the Shalom Matriculation Higher Secondary School run by some amazing people I have had the privilege of meeting. They have dedicated their lives to this cause. I want to help them financially rebuild so that they can get back to helping many village children get a strong life foundation just like I have been privileged to have.
COVID changed the world as we knew it. It seriously affected the children in rural schools like Shalom due to the inaccessibility of the internet and lack of technological devices. A year and a half later, many of the children are having a very hard time returning to schools as they have fallen way behind academically. Also, many parents have lost their livelihoods and cannot afford to pay the tuition fees. More than 200 students have left causing a lot of financial strain. The school is thus finding it very difficult to pay the salaries of qualified teachers, manage the cost of transportation, and meet other running expenses. Additionally, with grave personal financial losses, many returning students, want them to provide even more concessions on the already low fees.
Will you please join me in helping them run the school in a way that will once again give the children in the villages surrounding Pavoorchatram, India the opportunity to learn, grow and have a future just like I have in urban America?
Shalom Matriculation Higher Secondary School is run by Shalom Educational Trust, a non-profit NGO. It was started by Dr. Rajasingh and his wife Dr. Malathi Rajasingh in 1992. Dr Rajasingh is an Aerospace Scientist, an Indian Institute of Science Alumnus and was working in Germany in the German Space Centre, Munich. His wife, Dr. Malathi Rajasingh is an alumnus of St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore. All of the five siblings of Dr Malathi were already in the USA and the Rajasinghs also planned to move to the USA after working for some time in Germany. They had their Green Card in hand to migrate to the USA, but both felt a strong call to return to India to invest their lives for the uplift of the rural children through English education, to equip them to face a competitive world. So at the age of 38, Rajasingh and his wife with their two children aged 9 and 6, returned to India giving up their citizenship to the USA. They settled in a rural village in Tamilnadu and started Shalom school in 1992, with 50 children and 5 teachers from Kindergarten to 5th grade.
Over the years, the school has been upgraded up to 12th grade. It has got recognition from the Education department of the Government. The medium of instruction is English. It has classes from Kindergarten till 12th grade. Till before COVID, the school had 550 students and 30 teachers. Fifteen batches of students have graduated from the school so far with 100% pass in the final examinations conducted by the Government. The school has enough infrastructure like classrooms, library, labs, playground etc. Teachers of the school are qualified college graduates and post-graduates in the field of education.
Students of the school are mostly from rural backward communities, with poor economic backgrounds. Parents are laborers, small vendors or farmers. However, they want their kids to get a better education and they were willing to send them to an English Medium school, though the government schools offer free education where the medium of instruction is not English.
The school has four buses which are essential as only then the students from the surrounding villages will be able to come to the school.
Expenses of running the school are met by collecting fees from students and getting help from others. Since the students are from lower income families, the fees is kept very low, but still many students find it difficult to pay the fees and they are offered fee concessions. Some of Rajasingh’s friends and relatives contributed for development of the infrastructure.
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES:
The students are given opportunities to have a holistic development and bring out their talents. In addition to the regular curriculum prescribed by the Government for each grade, the students are trained in extra curricular activities, like sports, chess, karate, music etc. The school celebrates an annual day where the students show their talents in non-academic areas, like dance, acting in dramas, singing etc. The students are taught ethics and moral education in all grades.
Most of the students who have graduated from the school go on to college. The founders are proud to say that many of their students hold good positions in the society. Many are Engineers, teachers, nurses, college professors with doctorate degrees serving the people in different places in India. One of the students has become a Medical Doctor, returned to this village and has started a hospital here to serve the people of this rural area. Shalom school has made a difference in the lives of its students and given them an opportunity to rise up above their circumstances and shine as beacons in the society, bringing blessings to themselves and to others whose lives they impact. The achievements of the students have brought so much joy and fulfilment to the founders and they find giving up a prosperous life in the West is worth it all.
Shalom Matriculation Higher Secondary School Website: http://www.joinshalomschool.com