Over 80% of the children on this programme live on US$1 a day or less, the UN indicator of extreme poverty. The children are surrounded by a culture of alcoholism and violence against women, leading to high levels of deliberate self-harm and the fourth highest suicide rate in the world. The way out of this poverty is to gain jobs outside the tea plantations, but to have any chance of overcoming the ethnic bias against Indian Tamils, a good level of education, particularly English, is crucial.
With government schools in the tea estate communities having the poorest facilities and the least qualified teachers, children are destined to leave school without the crucial English knowledge that would enable them to find employment away from the servitude of the tea plantations. The children are unable to access other classes due to the 2 hour journey to the nearest town and the infrequency of transport services; even if they could travel, their parents would not be able to afford the class fees.
The area suffers from complex, multi-layered social issues. Alcoholism is as high as 85% amongst men from tea estate communities, which, when combined with the hopeless poverty, contributes to 83% of women suffering from domestic violence. Young people, particularly women, are afforded no respect or status and are married off young to husbands from other remote tea estates. Isolated, powerless and mistreated, the levels of depression, self-harm and suicide are incredibly high. To break out of this cycle, you must have English education, yet many of the local government school English teachers failed English themselves and are unable to teach the one subject that offers children and young people any kind of hope for the future.
This project trains young men and women (aged 18 to 24), from the free, full-time Tea Leaf Trust Main Diploma Programme to teach the poorest children from their own communities. The Student-Teachers teach free classes one afternoon a week following a structured curriculum and monitored by main diploma teachers. This process of training the trainer has many benefits:
1. Over 700 children are able to access crucial, potentially life-changing, free education.
2. 80 Student-Teachers learn additional teaching skills that will remain with them as parents and community members.
3. All involved gain become empowered and gain self-confidence as well as the respect of their communities.
4. This additional self-belief and status reduces the chances of them following the self-destructive paths of behaviour that surround them.
5. Strong relationships are built with the local government schools, which will allow us to develop our support in the future.
The CEP is structured as follows:
Term One: The students of the main diploma are trained in basic teaching methods and sit an exam to determine if they are of the right standard to teach the CEP.
Term Two: The children are registered and sit a placement test to determine their level. Classes begin, taught by Student-Teachers, managed by Interns from the 2nd year diploma and monitored by the Tea Leaf Trust staff team.
Term Three: Classes continue from a specifically designed course booklet. Once the curriculum is finished, there is a final exam and an award ceremony for the children.