Park Grove Methodist Church
The costs of running this home remained the same as last year although the income has increased with more support from JHC. Local contributions are the same as last year which is generally high as the home is held in high regard by the local community. Government officials from many sections visit the site regularly, often needing more and more papers. Despite having rejected some needy girls from MSGH earlier, government departments have also placed girls from other homes; they were forced to close due to failing standards, with MSGH. This proves the respect and faith they have in Seetha and the Committee to properly care for these girls.
The girls gather in the front section of the compound to study every evening. I tried to help a girl with her English study (I have a CELTA qualification) as she had an exam the next day and found the text book that they work from to be absurd. The vocabulary was extremely low frequency with some of it being completely non-sensical and the style of questioning was in no way concept checking, but subjective to one person's idea of how English is used. When asked what would be at the top of her wish list, Seetha replied more tutors for English, Maths and Physics for the higher standards.
The girls attend government aided Tamil medium Balamandiram Higher Secondary school which is 2 doors down the road to the home. The headmaster Mr Ranganathan has been in the post for 3 years and did not seem at all interested in giving us his undivided attention, rather not showing real interest in the fact that an overseas charity helps the children of Tamil Nadu. Trying to pin him down to an answer as to why school student numbers was dropping was impossible as he either evaded the question or left the room. He based the decline in numbers on the fact that everyone wants English medium teaching now. I repeatedly asked then why not offer it, to which something would immediately require his attention and he would either leave the room or jump up to talk to someone else. From my experience if the head management isn't willing to engage in the discussion of his students (for whom he is responsible) then chances are their welfare is not of particular importance to him.
The school is split into primary (1st to 5th standard - 150 students), secondary (6th to 10th Standard - 684 students) and higher secondary (11th and 12th Standard - 205 students). Giving a total of 1,084 pupils, this is a huge decline on previous years where the roll was 3,200 or higher. The main decline in numbers has been in the past 3 years which is exactly how long the current Head has been in charge. There are 22 full time teachers, 17 of which are paid by management and the rest are on a government salary. I was told the ratio of teachers to students is 1:35 but it is of course much higher than that, more along the lines of 1:49.
All regular subjects are taught up to 10th standard, then for 11th and 12th standards they split into 4 streams of study, in addition to Tamil and English:
1. Maths, physics, chemistry and biology
2. Maths, physics, chemistry and computer science
3. Commerce, accountancy, economics and business maths
4. History, geography, economics and political science.
The schooling year is split into 3 terms with tests every week and 1 major exam every year for 1st to 9th Standards. Of the final year grade 60% is the written exam and 40% is regular ongoing assessment. For 10th Standard there are no semesters (they do still get holidays!) and the final grade is based 100% on the written exam. 11th and 12th Standards have 2 mock exams and then the final theory and practical exams (depending on the subject). All the standards can get extra tuition every weekday. There is 1 session of a handwriting class at the beginning of the year for English and is open to whoever wants to attend (and pay 50 rupees).
Madurai Sevashram Girls Home
Annual Report 2016/2017
Page 3 of 4
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Park Grove Methodist Church.