Wayanad,the district of Kerala,India is considered the most backward district of Kerala.It is the district where backward tribals namely Paniya,Kattu Nayikar,Adiyar,Kuruma and Kurrichias are living.They were living with the means which they got from the forest.Due to deforestration and settlement of non tribal people here,the tribals are in a critical position at present.
Vanavasi Ashram trust was founded in 1996 by Dr.Appanu Nambiar a retired professor of education and registered on 15th of July 1997 with an objective of uplifting the tribals of Wayanad.The members of the trust also consists of three tribal chieftains,a medical practitioner, a lady teacher and a retired school teacher(secretary).
Pazhassi Raja tribal school was started with 41 tribal children in 1997-1998 by the Vanavasi Ashrum trust. There were 3 teachers who were responsible both for teaching and crafts and agriculture.The trust has got 4.75 acres of land on lease for growing paddy,pulses,bananas and vegetables.A cow was donated by a well wisher.
In 1998 there were 100 students, most of them were residing in the school itself. The temporary buildings were constructed with the help of social workers and parents.Funds were also collected from the public.AID INDIA and ASHA for education partly supported to meet the expenditure of food and honorarium of the staff .
In 1999-2000, the number of students remained almost the same because of the problems in fund,which was mainly collected from the public.AID Boston and ASHA for education continued the financial help in the second year also.This could partly meet the food and honorarium of the staff.
In 2000 – 2001 more students were admitted. ASHA for education donated $2000 .The trust also received limited amount of grant from Govt of India which is admissable to voluntary organisations in 2000-2001.No other agencies has given any financial assistance for this year. There are 213 tribal children(128 boys and 84 girls) studying in the school.Almost all of them are residing in the school itself.Some of them are orphans and wards of unwedded tribal mothers. The class rooms are now makeshift hostels. Seperate hostel buildings are not constructed yet for want of funds.There are 10 teachers and 14 non teaching staff working in the school and hostels.
The system of education is almost ‘Gurukula’, were the students and teachers live together and share their expenriences as in a family.The students,teachers and parents work together to grow vegetables,tappioca,banana and pulses.Students are taught stitching,tailoring,basket making,clay modelling,mat making,music,yoga and archery.As it is a tribal area archery is taught with due importance.Achery competitions are held for men,women and children every year.
The trust has been running the school for the last 4 years.Now significant
change has come in the attitude of the tribal community towards education and health care in this area.Most of the tribal children in the school are keeping
good health.Some of the children are talented in Music and folk arts
and they are encouraged to develop their talents by the school.
The trust is quite confident that the it can attract most of the tribal children in Wayanad if dedicated work is continued.